, April 2000
"Le Roi David, a symphonic oratorio was [Honegger's]first major success.the new Naxos recording makes a case for this continually surprising musical dramatization the biblical story of David and his triumphs over Galiath and Saul. Honegger, in adapting his theater score for the concert hall, introduced a narrator to replace the missing stage action. Though I'm not usually a fan of he spoken word on recordings, I enjoyed Jacques Martin's melodiously intoned declamations. It helps that Honegger gives many of the spoken parts skillful underscoring: the combination of music and speech contributes much to the distinctive quality of the piece.
"All the vocal soloists give theatrically involved, musically sound performances. Soprano Danielle Borst sings with an undulating beauty.her Angel in 'The Death of David' is one of the disc's highlights. Mezzo Marie-Ange Todorovitch brings a lovely tone and perfectly deceptive innocence to Bathsheba's seductive 'Song of the Maid-Servant.' Christine Fersen delivers a fearsomely effective rendition of the Prophetess's incantation, and young Clara Guedj holds her pitches extremely well amidst the dreamy orchestral dissonances of the 'Song of the Sheppherd David.' Tenor Gilles Ragon is especially convincing in the Psalm 'Have mercy on me, O God,' in which he projects the exiled David's despair and confidence with equal force. Michel Piquemal's Orchestre de la Cité (six woodwinds, four brass, piano, harmonium and percussion in this scoring) has several standout moments, especially the Prokofiev-esque 'March of the Philistines,' plus excellent intonation throughout the piece's transparent chamber-ensemble textures."