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Michael Johnson, July 2016

The performances are on the whole impressive. Johan Reuter is one of today’s top baritones and he gives a thoroughly committed performance in the title role. Niels Jørgen Riis has a tenor that glows ecstatically…

Bass Morten Staugaard is most impressive as Samuel. The young Norwegian baritone, Leif Jone Ølberg, displays a notably attractive voice as Abner. © 2016 Read complete review

James A. Altena
Fanfare, July 2016

The one truly strong performance is turned in by Johan Reuter as Saul, who sings robustly and captures his character’s tormented psyche. …Conductor Michael Schønwandt seems to have the score well in hand, and the chorus and orchestra fulfill their parts ably. © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review

John W Barker
American Record Guide, July 2016

…[singers] are quite accomplished vocally, and all of the cast is idiomatically attuned to this music.

Schonwandt…leads a well-paced performance, with choral and orchestral forces who know this music well. © 2016 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Roger Knox
The WholeNote, May 2016

…[disc] offers a stellar cast, Michael Schønwandt’s brilliant conducting, David Pountney’s provocative stage direction and optional English or Danish subtitles.

Bass-baritone Johan Reuter is outstanding as the conflicted King Saul. Through powerful acting and expressive singing he defines the dominant yet crisis-ridden character effectively. Morten Staugaard, as implacable Samuel, and Susanne Resmark, as the Witch of Endor, are surely highlights. Tenors Niels Jørgen Riis (David) and Michael Kristensen (Jonathan) and soprano Ann Petersen (Michal) are strong individually and in ensemble… © 2016 The WholeNote Read complete review

Parterre Box, April 2016

This compelling production by David Pountney for the Royal Danish Opera sets the work in an unspecific Middle Eastern country in present times.

An excellent cast, orchestra and chorus are led by conductor Michael Schønwandt. Baritone Johan Rueter commands the stage, giving an intense performance as Saul, riveting in his singing and acting.

Excellent soprano Ann Petersen as Michal manages both lyrical and dramatic music with assurance and no hint of strain, I would like to hear more of her. © 2016 Parterre Box Read complete review

Dave Billinge
MusicWeb International, April 2016

…admiration for a magnificent cast putting their all into a remarkable piece of early Nielsen, …The upside of this performance is the quality of singing by both soloists and chorus and the magnificently powerful orchestra under the inspired direction of Michael Schønwandt. © 2016 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Mike Ashman
Gramophone, March 2016

Orchestra and conductor unroll their home composer’s score with richness and dexterity. … Hugely recommended… © 2016 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2016

To mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Carl Nielsen, the Royal Danish Theatre commissioned a new production of his Biblical opera Saul and David. It was placed in the hands of the English director, David Poutney, who is best known for his updating of operas to the present era. He has certainly not disappointed, the action moved to the troubles that are besetting the Middle East, with the trials and tribulations of modern-day life in Israel as a focal point. The chorus inhabit high-rise concrete block flats, that dominate the set, the Royal Palace simply a raised dais in the centre of the stage. There are, of course, incongruities when the stage bristles with guns, while David and Goliath throw stones at one another in battle, and Saul’s sole line of defence resides in a spear. The story is all about David coming to the aid of Saul in battle, and having helped him overcome his enemies, the neurotic Saul suspects his followers will then follow David, and so banishes him with dire results. Would the composer have welcomed Poutney’s meddling? I leave that to your own thoughts, but you can always put the disc in your computer and remove Poutney all together by just playing the audio track. With the large distance between the chorus members in their respective flats, their impact is rather dissipated, but that apart this is an outstanding performance standing side by side with the celebrated recording from yesteryear on the Chandos label. The solo singing is highly impressive, with Johan Reuter’s Saul, both physically and vocally, an imposing presence, and if that overpowers the David of Niels Jørgen Riis, the fault lies, as the critics pointed out at the opera’s premiere, with Nielsen who tries too hard to make him a likeable character with music of a lyrical quality. Ann Petersen looks and sings gorgeously as Mikal; Michael Kristensen is every inch the downtrodden Jonathan, while Morten Staugaard’s cameo role as an old Samuel is excellent. Michael Schonwandt’s conducting once again shows that he is today’s leading Nielsen exponent, while The Royal Danish Orchestra do everything expected of them, though a little help from the balancing engineer would not have gone amiss. Colours are bright and vibrant, with the DVD director going as close as possible to the face of soloists with every possible opportunity. There are the usual translated subtitles in English. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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