OP0160. SAUL (Handel), w.Gardiner Cond. English Baroque Ensemble; Alastair Miles, Lynne Dawson, Donna Brown, Derek Lee Ragin, John Mark Ainsley, etc. 3-Philips 426 265, Live Performance 1989, Göttingen Handel Festival, w.Elaborate reproduced Libretto-brochure. Very long out-of-print, excellent copy reproduced from original Philips issue. - 028942626522
“SAUL is the fourth of Handel’s English oratorios, written in 1738–39, following L’ALLEGRO, MESSIAH, and BELSHAZZAR. It is clear that, in the wake of a failed subscription to an Italian opera season, Handel intended SAUL to take London by storm. The score calls for a huge orchestra, including trombones, carillon, a large organ, and double-bass kettledrums. This splendid recording, first issued in 1991, is of a live performance originally presented at the Göttingen Handel Festival in June 1989.
It’s a difficult task to enumerate highlights of a recording that abounds in heightened moments. Gardiner’s tempos throughout are graceful and appropriate; the forces always balanced. The Monteverdi choir produces its customary beautifully blended sound. And throughout, the soloists turn in a sequence of deeply affecting performances.
For me this recording remains the best all-round SAUL available. The more recent recording of René Jacobs/Concerto Cologne and the Berlin RIAS Chorus (Harmonia Mundi 901877) is the nearest competitor. The recorded sound is dimensional and clear. The use of original instruments is, of course, an incalculable advantage in portraying of shapes of Baroque phrasing, colors, and the dance-based tempos that form the rhythmical underpinning of the arias and choruses. The 20 or so voices of the Monteverdi Choir are capable of greater agility and clarity of texture than choruses more than twice as large. Add to this the special excitement of a live performance recording, and this is a SAUL to conjure with.”
- Patrick Rucker, FANFARE
"Gardiner's work, as founder and artistic director of the Monteverdi Choir (MC), English Baroque Soloists (EBS) and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (ORR), has marked him out as a key figure both in the early music revival and as a pioneer of historically informed performances.
As a regular guest of the world’s leading symphony orchestras, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Gardiner conducts repertoire from the 17th to the 20th centuries. He was awarded the Concertgebouw Prize in January 2016.
The extent of Gardiner’s repertoire is illustrated in the extensive catalogue of award-winning recordings with his own ensembles and leading orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic on major labels (including Decca, Philips, Erato and 30 recordings for Deutsche Grammophon), as wide-ranging as Mozart, Schumann, Berlioz, Elgar and Kurt Weill, in addition to works by Renaissance and Baroque composers. His many recording accolades include two GRAMMY awards and he has received more Gramophone Awards than any other living artist.
Gardiner has also conducted opera productions; at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, at the Vienna State Opera and at Teatro alla Scala, Milan. From 1983 to 1988 he was artistic director of Opéra de Lyon, where he founded its new orchestra."
- Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra