George Fr. Handel · Samson
S A M S O N
The English Oratorio HWV 57,
performed according to the traditions of the time
by Sinéad Pratschke (Soprano),
Michael Chance (Countertenor),
Mark Le Brocq (Tenor),
Raimund Nolte (Baritone),
David Thomas (Bass),
Monastery Baroque Orchestra,
Maulbronn Chamber Choir (Maulbronner Kammerchor)
Conductor: Jürgen Budday
A concert recording from the church of the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery
2-CD-Box · DDD · c. 150 Minutes
his live recording is part of a cycle of oratorios and masses, performed in the basilica of Maulbronn Abbey under the direction of Jürgen Budday. The series combines authentically performed oratorios and masses with the optimal acoustics and atmosphere of this unique monastic church. This ideal location demands the transparency of playing and the interpretive unveiling of the rhetoric intimations of the composition, which is especially aided by the historically informed performance. The music is exclusively performed on reconstructed historical instruments, which are tuned to the pitch customary in the composer's lifetimes (this performance is tuned in a' = 415 Hz).
mmediately after the "Messias", which was created within the 24 days between august, 22. and september, 14. 1741, Händel started to compose "Samson." At october, 29. 1741 he finished the last act, which means that those two biggest oratories, the "Messias" and "Samson," came into being within ten successive weeks only. Samson's dramaturgical fundament comes from the book "judges" of the bible. John Milton, England's most important baroque poet, has formed his epos "Samson Agonistes" by following freely the outlines of the bible. Newburgh Hamilton transformed it for Händel's oratory.
It descibes the betrayal, the remorse and the victory of Samson, the israelean army commander, whose power grew with his hair, as the legend tells us. The work starts one year after the capture and blinding of Samson, when the priests of the pagan god Dagon are celebrating their greatest triumph. In his last struggle Samson, accompained by his father Manoah and his friend Micah, has to stand the temptations of the seductress Dalila and the giant Harapha, which are both followers of god Dagon and his priests. When his strenghs returns, Samson smashes the pillars of Dragon's temple and buries the enemies and himself under the rubble.
Come, come and liter your moaning now, for our hero, Samson, died as Samson. In death and life winner, he gave ruin to our enemies, never ending glory to himself...
Second, I suspected that the recordings themselves might be filled with ambient and background noises since these were the result of live performances.
I have been extremely pleased with the technical aspects of the recordings: they are 'clean' and clear with very little extraneous sounds. The engineering of these recordings is highly commendable!!
Finally, the orchestral playing by the Barockorchester der Klosterkonzerte and the participation of the Maulbronner Kammerchor are nearly flawless. The string playing is especially strong, and the choruses - filled with drama and emotion - are executed at the highest possible level. Even the pronunciation and intonation of the English is perfect.
In sum, I could not be happier with these two superb recordings. Already possessing several recorded versions of each of these masterful oratorios, I felt that it would be difficult to match the strength and quality of, for example, the performance under John Elliot Gardiner.
These two new additions by K&K Verlagsanstalt to the recorded Handel repertoire are magnificent models, exemplary of how to bring these monumental works to life for the modern audience. The crisp, clear recording, the excellent engineering, the incredible acoustics, the superb performances make these two of the best Handel compact discs I have purchased in a long time.
I should be most happy if you would keep my name on your mailing list, since I would like to be informed when your fine enterprise releases any more Baroque repertoire. These are performances to be treasured and are of the highest caliber of historically-informed practice.