The series of recordings of the Abbey of Maulbronn is prolific, and after a very good Messiah, we arrive now Solomon, another oratorio of Haendel. Solomon is a rather fixed work, a single scene, that of the famous judgment, presenting a little bit of "action", but the music, powerful and refined, is the most inspired Handel, and the virtuoso treatment of the choruses reveals a incomparable mastery.
The strengths of this version are quite numerous, starting with the Maulbronner Kammerchor which has a lot to do in the act of the Queen of Sheba, and which seduces by its excellent behavior, a good mastery of polyphony and strong and very strong stamps. present. The chorus does not display the overall perfection of the best English formations, and some intonations are a little questionable, but it is largely catching up with the level of dramatic engagement and theatricality.
The great British piano virtuoso Solomon Cutner (known professionally by his first name alone) was born in the East End of London in 1902. He was best known for his performances of the music of Beethoven, of which there are many examples in this 7 CD set…
There was a time, not long ago, when Baroque scores were treated as a folio of performance suggestions, not as the letter of the law. Performers felt free to add music or (more often) to take it away, and to do other things which were quite different from what the composer originally had in mind. Sir Thomas Beecham had no qualms about performing surgery on the music of George Frideric Handel, a composer he absolutely adored. No disrespect was intended. In fact, Beecham loved Handel so much, he wanted everyone else to love him too. That meant making him more palatable for modern tastes – bigger and leaner, at the same time.
African High Life is the debut album by Nigerian drummer and percussionist Solomon Ilori recorded in 1963 and released on the Blue Note label. The album was reissued on CD in 2006 with three bonus tracks recorded at a later session. It seems strange that Blue Note, a label generally associated with bop, hard bop, and the early avant-garde, would have released an album like African High Life. It didn't really fit in with Blue Note's back catalog and – perhaps as a result – the label didn't tread these waters again for a number of years. Regardless, this is a very enjoyable if not essential album of traditional African highlife music set to dance tempos.
Acts I and III of this oratorio are sumptuous pageants: Solomon on the throne with his adoring Queen; Solomon receives the Queen of Sheba. In between, Act II's depiction of Solomon's judgment (over the baby) is one of the finest dramatic scenes Handel wrote in any context. The First Harlot's fear, desperation, and gratitude, the Second Harlot's grief-crazed jealousy, Solomon's serene wisdom–all are smashingly portrayed by Handel and by Rodgers, Jones and Watkinson. Argenta's Queen is a girlish delight; the regal Hendricks as Sheba sounds quite comfortable among these Baroque specialists; Rolfe Johnson and Varcoe have two splendid arias each. The choir and orchestra–whether in the amorous "Nightingale" chorus, the sequence of pictorial numbers in Act III, or the stunning double choruses throughout–are magnificent.–Matthew Westphal
"Solomon's wonderful performances of the great Op 111 … is unfortunately spoilt by poor recording." So wrote the authors of "The Record Guide" in 1951. Well, here's a chance for music lovers to hear this wonderful 1948 performance half a century later in remastered sound. I reckon it is a wonderful performance, a little fresher in approach than Solomon's 1951 remake.
It's been conventional wisdom for several generations that Solomon, great oratorio though it may be, contains a lot of deadwood; conductors have regularly cut some items and changed the order of others. (Even John Eliot Gardiner's excellent recording cuts about 30 minutes of music.) Leave it to Paul McCreesh to give us the complete score–and demonstrate that Handel's original structure makes plenty of sense and that every number is worthwhile.