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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Given just two performances in 1764, five years after Handel’s death, Nabal is a pasticcio oratorio with material drawn from a wide range of the composer’s works. It was compiled by John Christopher Smith, Handel’s favourite copyist as well as a composer, using material left to him in Handel’s will. The story is drawn from the Old Testament, the book of Samuel, where the young David defies the rich and churlish Nabal, who promptly dies and whose wife Abigail, then becomes one of David’s wives. The libretto was written by Thomas Morell, who had collaborated with Handel on at least four of his oratorios, including Theodora and Jephtha. Here he had to fit works to music already written, with fluent results. It makes an attractive curiosity in a generally well-sung, alert performance, recorded live with occasionally intrusive applause. All five soloists have fresh young voices, with all three sopranos first rate and Knut Schoch as David clear and fluent. As Nabal, Stephan MacLeod is not weighty or old-sounding enough for a villainous role, but he sings well. The principal snag is that the chorus is dimly recorded, set behind the soloists and period orchestra. A valuable issue, just the same.

Richard Wigmore
BBC Music Magazine, October 2002

"The orchestral playing is stylish, and the young, fresh-toned soloists all do well, especially the Dutch soprano Francine van der Heijden, who gives a beautifully shaped account of the exquisite aria that started life as 'Verdi prati' in Alcina."

Stephen Pettitt
, July 2002

"This is a tidily stylish performance by the choir, Junge Kantorei, the Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra and a strong team of aptly supple, light-voiced soloists."

Alex Morin
Audiophile Audition

"The cast is excellent; Shoch's tenor handles the coloratura arias accurately and easily, and the women have lovely voices and sing well throughout. Martini is a good Handelian, and his orchestra and chorus perform with zest. Nabal may not be echt Handel, but it offers a lot of beautiful music and is thoroughly enjoyable. Good notes, good sound, and libretto."

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