George Frideric Handel: Messiah

George Frideric Handel: Messiah

by Polyphony
     
 

There are so many excellent recordings of "Messiah" that the addition of another only further complicates the decision for the listener, but having such an abundance of riches should be no cause for complaint. Hyperion's recording with Stephen Layton leading the choir Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia is not among the flashiest orSee more details below

Overview

There are so many excellent recordings of "Messiah" that the addition of another only further complicates the decision for the listener, but having such an abundance of riches should be no cause for complaint. Hyperion's recording with Stephen Layton leading the choir Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia is not among the flashiest or most star-studded, but it is immensely musically satisfying. Layton takes something of a middle ground in terms of performance practice; the Britten Sinfonia uses modern instruments, but its players are attuned to the subtleties of Baroque performance, as are the members of Polyphony, a chamber choir with about 30 singers. The small size of the ensembles is an antidote to the bloated numbers that have characterized many performances of the piece, and most importantly, makes possible the agility required to cleanly execute Handel's virtuoso choral writing when the appropriately lively temps are taken. The choir's clarity and precision in movements like "His yoke is easy," whose text demands the kind of dance-like springiness that Layton provides, is one of the strongest arguments for this version. Layton's soloists are likewise superb; they each bring impeccable, effortless-sounding technique and youthful, unmannered freshness to their parts. Julia Doyle's clarion soprano is crystal clear and bright. Iestyn Davies may not have the sumptuousness of some countertenors, but the naturalness of his sound and the purity and evenness of his timbre throughout his range make his a tremendously appealing performance. Allan Clayton's tenor is light but full, focused, and heroic, with none of the preciousness that can characterize English oratorio tenors. Bass Andrew Foster-Williams doesn't have the ideal weight for some of the low-lying solos, but his tone is warm and lovely. Layton's version is also noteworthy for its narrative urgency; it feels like he is telling a story rather than simply stringing together a series of arias, recitatives, and choruses. With clean, present sound, Hyperion's "Messiah" would make a fine first recording and also has much to offer connoisseurs of the work.

Read More

Product Details

Release Date:
11/10/2009
Label:
Hyperion Uk
UPC:
0034571178004
catalogNumber:
67800
Rank:
198608

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56  - George Frideric Handel  -  Britten Sinfonia  - Stephen Layton  - Simon Perry  -  Polyphony  - Andrew Foster-Williams  - Julia Doyle  - Iestyn Davies  - Allan Clayton  - Laila Shawa

Read More

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Polyphony   Primary Artist

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >