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The year 1749 was a monster one for Handel. He had so many projects on the go, friends must surely have feared for his health (after all, he was not a slip of a thing).
As well as the Music for the Royal Fireworks, numerous anthems were written, including How Beautiful are the Feet. There must be nothing so demoralising for a composer as writing music that is not performed and Handel was no different. He wanted some of the music he had already written in the previous year to see the light of day. One work that fell into this category was his oratorio Solomon. He had spent precious time on it in 1748 and felt it should be out there in front of the listening public.
Solomon consists of three acts, plus an overture – sixty-two sections in all, with liberal mention for one of the lead characters, Zadok the Priest. But don’t get confused. The anthem Zadok the Priest doesn’t feature. That had already been written, twenty-two years earlier, for a coronation. The premiere of Solomon was at what was then called the Theatre Royal, which is, give or take the odd destruction, what we would today call the Royal Opera house.
Inger dam-Jensen (soprano); Alison Hagley (soprano); Susan Bickley (soprano); Susan Gritton (soprano); Andreas Scholl (contralto); Paul Agnew (tenor); Peter Harvey (bass); Gabrieli Consort and Players; Paul McCreesh (conductor). Deutsche Grammophon archiv: 4596882.