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Handel, Solomon, English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner (remastered in 2006)
Handel's setting of this scene in Act II, scene 2, of his oratorio Solomon (1749) is so beautiful that, in my mind, Handel's version must be how it actually happened. The first woman must have made her final plaint to Solomon with precisely the words of the libretto, attributed to Newburgh Hamilton:
Can I see my infant gor'dHandel's heart-breaking music never sounded as good as in this classic performance featuring Carolyn Watkinson (Solomon), Joan Rodgers (First Harlot), and Della Jones (Second Harlot). If you do not already own it, this classic recording conducted by John Eliot Gardiner has just been re-released in a remastered version.
With the fierce relentless sword?
Can I see him yield his breath,
Smiling at the hand of death?
And behold the purple tides
Gushing down his tender sides?
Rather be my hopes beguil'd,
Take him all, but spare my child.
Philips 475 7561