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Grandeur and intimacy

A performance of Handel's 'Solomon',
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Solomon is the most sensuous of Handel's biblical oratorios, with its remarkable combination of grandeur and intimacy. Conductor Richard Roddis presided over a performance full of rhythmic vitality, whether in the playfully lilting dance-rhythms or the grander, more majestic numbers.

Derby Bach Choir (Saturday 26 November 2005, Derby Cathedral, UK) sang with boldness and conviction, buoyed up by Musica Donum Dei Baroque Orchestra's crisp, alert playing. 'May no Rash Intruder', one of Handel's most ravishing choruses, glowed with a magical warmth. At the work's opposite expressive pole, the imposing ceremonial choruses in Acts 2 and 3 tingled with excitement.

Of an outstanding solo team, William Purefoy's Solomon projected a quiet confidence in his own authority. Lucy Crowe consolidated her growing reputation, radiant in the roles of the two queens -- the Sheba/Solomon duets in Act 3 were among the highlights of a captivating evening. She also brought a touching pathos to the scene of the two harlots disputing motherhood of the child in Act 2. I wondered at first whether Kate Semmens's Second Harlot wasn't going to be bitchy enough, but I needn't have worried. Simon Theobald sang the Levite's arias with dignity, while the golden tone of Mark Wilde's Zadok, though insecure in runs, was impressive.

Copyright © 1 December 2005 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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