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In this pioneering recording Dunedin Consort presents a brand new performing version of one of Handel’s greatest dramatic works, Samson. For the first time listeners can enjoy an authentic Handelian chorus, comprising both solo sopranos and boy trebles – a sonority largely unheard in the modern age. The singers available to Handel for the work’s first set of performances in 1743 varied considerably, leading many researchers to speculate upon the composer’s own preferences. But new thinking by director John Butt has led to the evolution of this recording and to what he considers to be the definitive performance in line with Handel’s intentions. This powerful oratorio – an opera in all but name – features soloists Sophie Bevan, Matthew Brook, Mary Bevan, Hugo Hymas and Jess Dandy, with Joshua Ellicott in the title role. Matching the revelatory historical practice begun in its award-winning recording of Messiah (Dublin Version, 1742), the soloists lead their sections to unite the solo and choral forces, creating a highly effective and cohesive sound. With rich orchestration and highlights such as ‘Let the bright seraphim’ and ‘Total eclipse’, Samson is Dunedin Consort’s most ambitious undertaking to date.

GRAMOPHONE Editor's Choice award

"...this is an immaculate, and hugely important, recording. More prizes assuredly await."
The Herald, 26 October 2019
"As Samson, Joshua Ellicott navigates the tightrope between opera and oratorio really well... That’s one of the joys of Butt’s new recording, revelling in the dramatic colour of Handel’s imaginative scoring."
BBC Radio 3 ‘Record Review’, 26 October 2019
"No one can accuse the Dunedin Consort of doing things by halves. John Butt directs with vigour...while Dunedin regulars excel."
The Observer, 17 November 2019
"Handsomely produced, with outstanding notes and glowing sound, this is a treat."
The Arts Desk, 16 November 2019
"The recording breaks new ground as conductor John Butt bolsters the Dunedin Consort with members of Tiffin Boys’ Choir."
The Financial Times, 15 November 2019
"The performance itself is, needless to say, utterly splendid and makes the best introduction to the piece for modern listeners."
Classical CD Choice, 14 November 2019
"Recording of the Year: A taught, exciting reading with the very finest performances and top notch sound ..."
MusicWeb International, 2 December 2019
"Recommended: In short, this is superb, the best Handel oratorio I’ve heard in years."
MusicWeb International, 21 November 2019
"The results are intriguing...a powerful set of choruses, and for these alone the disc is worth buying."
Planet Hugill, 25 October 2019
"Excepcional John Butt gathers a glittering vocal cast ... the orchestra is dazzling, as usual in the case of the Dunedin Consort."
Scherzo, March 2020
"The momentum holds up over the entire long version: the album is well recorded by Linn ... this is both an important and an enjoyable Handel recording."
All Music, 7 January 2020
"This release is unlikely to be surpassed – or even competed with – for some time."
Early Music Review, 27 December 2019
"This is the best we have yet had from John Butt and his Dunedin Consort of Edinburgh ... both singing and playing are first-rate."
The Daily Mail, 27 December 2019
"5* : Joshua Ellicott is, by turns, powerful and vulnerable in the title role ... Together with outstanding orchestral playing, this complete recording of Handel’s first version of Samson is highly recommended."
Choir & Organ, Febuary 2020
"... his choral sound and musical direction are delightfully invigorating ... another superb recording."
MusicWeb International, 23 January 2020
"Recording of the Month - Performance 5* / Recording 5* : John Butt has created the best Samson ever ... The choir’s performance is this production’s crowning glory."
BBC Music Magazine, January 2020
"Overall, the recording is cohesive, immediate, and captivating — simply one of the best recordings of Handel I have heard in recent years."
Early Music America