Handel: Saul

This page lists all recordings of Saul, by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) on CD, DVD, Blu-ray & download (MP3 & FLAC). Generally, more recent releases are listed first, but with priority given to those that are in stock.

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October 2005
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October 2004
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October 2012
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November 2005

All recordings

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Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul

Recorded live at Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes, October 2015.


Christopher Purves (Saul), Iestyn Davies (David), Lucy Crowe (Merab), Sophie Bevan (Michal), Paul Appleby (Jonathan), Benjamin Hulett (High Priest) & John Graham-Hall (Witch of Endor)

The Glyndebourne Chorus & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Ivor Bolton (conductor) & Barrie Kosky (director)

Glyndebourne’s Saul stole the summer and had critics raving. The Guardian (****) applauded ‘virtuoso stagecraft’ from director Barrie Kosky in his debut production there, calling the show ‘a theatrical and musical feast of energetic choruses, surreal choreography and gorgeous singing’. For The Independent, which ranked it amongst five top classical and opera performances of 2015, there was ‘no praise too high’ for the cast. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Ivor Bolton sparkles from the pit with period panache, and designer Katrin Lea Tag’s ‘exuberant costumes’ (The Times ****) set the Old Testament story in Handel’s time, with a witty twinge of the contemporary.

Running time: 185 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

Extra Features: A Descent Into Madness and a Cast Gallery.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Opus Arte Glyndebourne - OA1216D

(DVD Video)

Normally: $31.75

Special: $28.75

Scheduled for release on 27 May 2016. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul

Recorded live at Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes, October 2015.


Christopher Purves (Saul), Iestyn Davies (David), Lucy Crowe (Merab), Sophie Bevan (Michal), Paul Appleby (Jonathan), Benjamin Hulett (High Priest) & John Graham-Hall (Witch of Endor)

The Glyndebourne Chorus & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Ivor Bolton (conductor) & Barrie Kosky (director)

Glyndebourne’s Saul stole the summer and had critics raving. The Guardian (****) applauded ‘virtuoso stagecraft’ from director Barrie Kosky in his debut production there, calling the show ‘a theatrical and musical feast of energetic choruses, surreal choreography and gorgeous singing’. For The Independent, which ranked it amongst five top classical and opera performances of 2015, there was ‘no praise too high’ for the cast. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Ivor Bolton sparkles from the pit with period panache, and designer Katrin Lea Tag’s ‘exuberant costumes’ (The Times ****) set the Old Testament story in Handel’s time, with a witty twinge of the contemporary.

Running time: 185 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

Extra Features: A Descent Into Madness, Colour and Texture - An Musical Insight and a Cast Gallery.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Opus Arte Glyndebourne - OABD7205D

(Blu-ray)

Normally: $38.25

Special: $34.25

Scheduled for release on 27 May 2016. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul


Rosemary Joshua (Michal), Emma Bell (Merab), Lawrence Zazzo (David), Jeremy Ovenden (Jonathan), Michael Slattery (High Priest, Witch of Endor), Finnur Bjarnason (Amalekite, Abner), Henry Waddington (Doeg, Samuel), Gidon Saks (Saul)

RIAS Kammerchor & Concerto Köln, René Jacobs

“Concerto Köln...has long been one of the leading period instrument orchestras and they play with vitality and rhythmic swagger. You only need to listen to the overture to realise that this is the real thing. The 36-strong RIAS Kammerchor is another important building block in this production, powerful and fine-tuned and they really make the most of the choruses, so central to this drama … The recording is excellent and the notes informative and well written.” MusicWeb International, 21st October 2015

Early Music - up to 30% off

Harmonia Mundi HMHeritage - HMY2921877/78

(CD - 2 discs)

Normally: $15.00

Special: $13.65

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul


Nancy Argenta (soprano), Michael Chance (counter-tenor), Laurie Reviol (soprano), Stephen Varcoe (bass), Mark Le Brocq (tenor), Michael Berner (tenor), Steffen Balbach (bass)

Hanoverian Court Orchestra, Maulbronn Chamber Choir, Jurgen Budday

K&K - KuK83

(CD - 2 discs)

$28.75

(also available to download from $20.00)

This item is currently out of stock at the UK distributor. You may order it now but please be aware that it may be six weeks or more before it can be despatched. (Available now to download.)

Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul


“Rolfe Johnson is outstanding...in this powerfully dramatic account” BBC Music Magazine, April 2010 ****

Early Music - up to 30% off

Warner Classics Das Alte Werk - 2564686983

(CD - 2 discs)

Normally: $12.50

Special: $8.75

Usually despatched in 3 - 4 working days.

Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul


“Notwithstanding a few weaknesses, Rilling convincingly sustains the drama with mainly well-judged tempos, an appropriate sense of pacing, and strong support from chorus and instrumentalists.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2007 ***

Early Music - up to 30% off

Hänssler - HAEN98280

(CD - 2 discs)

Normally: $31.50

Special: $25.20

(also available to download from $20.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul

oratorio in 3 acts (sung in English)


Rosemary Joshua, Emma Bell, Lawrence Zazzo, Jeremy Ovenden, Gidon Saks, Michael Slattery, Finnur Bjarnason & Henry Waddington

RIAS-Kammerchor & Concerto Köln, René Jacobs

The most dramatic of oratorios. Although oratorios are not intended to be staged, Handel’s Saul is something of an exception - for one thing, it contains extremely precise stage directions which were printed in the wordbooks distributed at performances. Hence audiences at the first English oratorios could construct a form of mental theatre, aided by Handel’s dazzling musical depiction of the action: as we listen, we can see Goliath’s gigantic strides, the course of the Jordan, or Saul throwing his javelin.

“Saul, Handel's first great oratorio, has over the last 15 years or so become one of his most popular on disc, a consequence no doubt of its textural and musical variety, dramatic urgency and sheer entertainment value. There is something for everyone here: rollicking choral celebrations of Israelite victories at the start, balanced at the end by outpourings of national grief, with the stern moral pronouncement of 'Envy, eldest born of hell!' in between; superb arias for a vivid cast of characters, one of whom is a compelling tragic hero of Shakespearian stature; and a good helping of instrumental interest, with Handel ingeniously using orchestral movements to signal the passing of time.
René Jacobs's recording followed only a little over a year after Paul McCreesh's well-regarded, high-production-value account for DG and readers familiar with both conductors' styles will know what kinds of contrast to expect. Jacobs's understanding of the dramatic workings of Baroque opera and oratorio is second to none and, as usual, his performance is outstandingly successful in linking Handel's sequences of numbers into a coherent whole, with recitatives flowing in and out of arias, and choruses arriving and departing with real purpose. The performance also gains theatrical presence by its punchy sound: the orchestra is well represented in the balance – undoubtedly a good thing in view of Concerto Köln's vibrant playing – while the RIAS Chamber Choir are encouraged to let dramatic concerns take precedence over the more smoothly produced 'English anthem' Handel Vocal 521 sound of McCreesh's Gabrieli Consort. Indeed, there is a distinctly continental whiff to Jacobs's choruses which he heightens (some might say distractingly) through the use of 'French'-style final-note trills.
Jacobs's customary attention to detail in recitatives, backed up by some imaginative instrumentation, also draws vital responses from his soloists; certainly Gidon Saks's manly Saul sounds more dangerously volatile in these than he does in his arias, though this may be more Handel's fault than his. The other singers strike a better balance and, while not as starry a line-up as McCreesh's (where the presence of Andreas Scholl as David will be recommendation enough for many), are nevertheless well chosen to achieve a 'company' result. Sopranos Rosemary Joshua and Emma Bell are effectively contrasted as Saul's daughters, while Jeremy Ovenden cuts a humane but incisively heroic figure as Jonathan.
Lawrence Zazzo's David cannot match the sheer vocal allure of Scholl but comes across as more rounded figure – this, after all, is a character who has to be both a sensitive musician and a warrior-leader.
If it is dramatic involvement you want from Saul, then Jacobs's is the one to have, though it certainly should not turn you against McCreesh's classy product. If money is no object (and note that Jacobs gets his performance onto two discs to everyone else's three), you could do worse than treat yourself to more than one.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Emma Bell is turning out to be a fine Handel singer of considerable power… and her Merab - sometimes haughty, sometimes indignant - affords effective contrast with the fresh and sensuous contours of Rosemary Joshua's Michal. The dramatically blander role of Jonathan is very well sung by Jeremy Ovenden... under Jacobs's direction the RIAS-Kammerchor comes over very well indeed. The great 'Envy' chorus at the beginning of Act II and the concluding 'Gird on thy sword', gallant in character, are superbly done.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2005

“a must for all Handelians..by a whisker, surely the Saul to have on your shelves” International Record Review

“though they are by no means leisurely, Jacobs's tempi never seem over-fast. Jacobs is dramatic in every number, and among his soloists Rosemary Joshua as Michal and counter-tenor Laurence Zazzo are outstanding.” The Guardian, 16th September 2005 ****

GGramophone Awards 2006

Best of Category

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2005

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - October 2005

Harmonia Mundi - HMC901877/78

Download only from $15.00

Available now to download.

Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul


Early Music - up to 30% off

Teldec - 4509975042

(CD - 2 discs)

Normally: $21.25

Special: $14.87

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

This item is currently out of stock at the UK distributor. You may order it now but please be aware that it may be six weeks or more before it can be despatched.

Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul


Saul is among Handel’s most dramatic oratorios. As in almost no other Handel oratorio, the exciting drama of this work shows how close it was to the opera of that time. Through the use of harp and glockenspiel in the orchestra he impressively portrays the history of Saul and David with the sounds of ancient Israel.

Early Music - up to 30% off

Carus - Music from Dresden - CARUS83243

(CD - 3 discs)

Normally: $40.75

Special: $32.60

(also available to download from $30.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul


“With incisive, disciplined choral singing, the result is overwhelming.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2008

“The special strengths of Paul McCreesh's performance lie in the drama and the urgency he brings to the work, the keen sense of character he imparts to the music, the vigorous pacing that carries the action forward with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy. But Saul is a tragic work, and there's sometimes a want of the necessary gravitas. Nevertheless, this is a gripping and very inspiriting performance. The precision and flexibility of the Gabrieli Consort is a constant delight; the voices are fresh and bright, the words well articulated. The Gabrieli Players, too, produce a fine and distinctive period orchestral timbre. Andreas Scholl makes an ideal David, with sweetness and unusual depth of tone, exceptional precision of rhythm and perfectly clear words: if you try 'O Lord, whose mercies' you will buy this set. Enjoyable, too, is Nancy Argenta's natural, delicately phrased singing of Micah's music, and Susan Gritton's telling portrayal of Saul's elder daughter, Merab. Saul himself, sometimes fiery, nearly always agonised, is effectively drawn by Neal Davies; and Mark Padmore's warm and gently graceful tenor is ideal for Jonathan's music.
There's no shortage of good recordings of this work. Gardiner's weighty version holds the field, but this version presents a serious challenge; the lightness and clarity, the livelier drama and the solo singing of Scholl in particular tell in favour of McCreesh.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

Building a Library

First Choice - October 2004

DG Archiv - 4745102

(CD - 3 discs)

$41.25

(also available to download from $25.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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