Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah

3.0 1
by Edward Higginbottom
     
 
Many early music performers strive to re-create the style and expressions of a certain period, working within a consensus of opinions on what constitutes authentic performance practice. But some go quite a bit further and reproduce a work with all the known details of instrumentation and the specific features of a historic performance. Not only have Edward

Overview

Many early music performers strive to re-create the style and expressions of a certain period, working within a consensus of opinions on what constitutes authentic performance practice. But some go quite a bit further and reproduce a work with all the known details of instrumentation and the specific features of a historic performance. Not only have Edward Higginbottom and the excellent Academy of Ancient Music reconstructed the well-documented 1751 version of George Frideric Handel's "Messiah," but they have performed it with the superb New College Choir, Oxford, gifted virtuoso vocalists such as tenor Toby Spence and bass Eamon Dougan, along with trebles Henry Jenkinson, Otta Jones, Robert Brooks, and countertenor Iestyn Davies, following Handel's employment of men and boys in his London performances. As much as anyone can make the "Messiah" sound authentic, like a living, breathing, organic work of the eighteenth century -- played on original instruments with the highest musicality, and with all the refinements of Baroque embellishment and improvisation -- Higginbottom and his skillful musicians make this overly familiar oratorio seem utterly revived with their fresh sounding timbres and the choir's lighter voices; and they deliver it with the vitality, passion, beauty, and excitement that might make one forget, if not exactly forgive, what the stodgy Victorians and their pious ilk did to this vibrant masterpiece. Considering the vast array of historically informed recordings available, listeners in search of a great version can rest assured that this is one of the absolute best, and be grateful that Naxos has given this project such lavish production values and its finest engineering. This exquisite presentation of "Messiah" is recommended as one of the finest recordings of 2006.

Editorial Reviews

Gramophone - David Vickers
At best, Higginbottom's choir produces some marvelous moments.... Higginbottom's direction does not boil with dramatic intensity but instead simmers along with patience, elegant judgement and articulate tastefulness.
BBC Music Magazine - Nicholas Anderson
The bright, continental sound of the boys’ voices in the New College recording is, to my ears, irresistible.... The choruses "All we like sheep," "Worthy is the Lamb" and the Amen are scintillating from start to finish.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/31/2006
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313013173
catalogNumber:
8570131
Rank:
259126

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56

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Handel: Messiah 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have red several rave reviews of this basic work about this particular performance and I don`t understand what is so great about this recording. I just listened to the 2nd Cd (in my opinion, the most difficult part of the work to work out, for the performers, because in non-capable hands it can lead to boredom)and for me it was clear it is not a great one. Ok Ok Ok there is nothing really wrong here. That is why I put 3 stars and not 1. Here there are no excentricities (Listen to the Alleluya by Jacobs and you will find them right from the start. Lesson of the day: avoid a recording when a conductor wants to attrack attention on himself rather than the work). But ... the idea of boy singers to sing arias is wrong: never, never a boy can handle the phrasing and ornamentation an adult female can make. And I can`t stand "light" baritones in Messiah: the work needs a truly resonant basso (such as Tomlinson). Ornamentation in arias is not always present in 2nd Cd for ex trumpet shall sound (wrong !!!). And some tempi are plodding. The Alleluya is just right, nothing really new and vivid. In short, a correct, cheap Messiah. Recommended for short budgets and fans of collegiate choirs