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Handel’s Saul was the ground-breaking work of its time. The biblical story of God’s anointed Saul captured the composer’s imagination to produce a lengthy work of dramatic intensity. Within the music Handel captures perfectly the destruction of Saul and his son, brought about by Saul’s own actions and the emergence of triumphant innocence in the form of David, who went on to found a dynasty. Saul is the first English oratorio to have a male lead, and it remains one of the composer’s most significant works.

The music portrays a whole gamut of human emotions from envy, rage and jealousy to bewilderment, sorrow and love. Christophers is in his element, drawing from his performers a stunning interpretation of the work. The lovely mezzo-soprano voice of Sarah Connolly makes a remarkable and totally credible David, matched by Christopher Purves’s well-judged interpretation of Saul’s self-destruction. From the remainder of the soloists to the chorus and orchestra there isn’t a weak performance. This is Handel at his very best.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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