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PBO's 'Saul' is a perfect fit for Nicholas McGegan / San Francisco Classical Voice

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Nicholas McGegan may no longer be the artistic director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, but the record of McGegan's inimitable touch - unmistakable, in the case of Handel's Saul - remains to savor. Everything about his artistry, including the buoyant and sprightly tempos, sly humor, deep reverence for beauty, and capacity for sincere emotional expression come through on this, his final live recording with PBO.

Although Saul's covers and liner notes shockingly fail to give him credit, the recording was superbly produced, recorded, edited, mixed,  and mastered by PBO's former recording engineer, David v.R. Bowles of Swineshead Productions, LLC. Set down in Berkeley's First Congregational Church in April, 2019, this digital-only release shows the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Philharmonia Chorale, under Bruce Lamott, in fine form. Auditioned in 24/192 high-resolution, Bowles's achievement captures all the nuance and color that were transmitted by First Congregational's uniquely live, resonant, and spacious acoustic, and leaves me deeply regretting both his departure and that of his husband, McGegan.

The recording is available on various streaming/download services, including Qobuz, Amazon, and others. If you download or stream this recording and discover yourself without libretto, biographies, and Lamott's introduction, you can find them at philharmonia.org/saul., Make sure to access them because they'll help you understand just how wonderful this performance is. Having said that, there are many times when the sound and music are so captivating that you may find yourself closing your eyes as your relish their beauties.    PHOTO: Laura Barisonzi

READ THE FULL San Francisco Classical Voice REVIEW