Handel: Messiah

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
While Johannes Somary's 1970 Vanguard recording of Handel's "Messiah" provides an early example of authentic period re-creation -- it is a complete performance of the 1966 Watkins Shaw edition, with pared-down choral and orchestral forces, appropriate ornamentation, and a continuo alternating between harpsichord and organ -- it sounds a little stilted and awkward by contemporary standards. The rhythms have more than enough snap, and Somary's tempos are respectably brisk, but the Amor Artis Chorale and the English Chamber Orchestra seem a bit stiff in what was for the time a new way of playing Baroque music, and some uncertainty is detectable in the solo singing. Tenor ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
While Johannes Somary's 1970 Vanguard recording of Handel's "Messiah" provides an early example of authentic period re-creation -- it is a complete performance of the 1966 Watkins Shaw edition, with pared-down choral and orchestral forces, appropriate ornamentation, and a continuo alternating between harpsichord and organ -- it sounds a little stilted and awkward by contemporary standards. The rhythms have more than enough snap, and Somary's tempos are respectably brisk, but the Amor Artis Chorale and the English Chamber Orchestra seem a bit stiff in what was for the time a new way of playing Baroque music, and some uncertainty is detectable in the solo singing. Tenor Alexander Young and bass Justino Diaz both attempt some decorative improvisation in their arias, but their discomfort is apparent in the dubious intonation; and while soprano Margaret Price and contralto Yvonne Minton are better with hitting the right pitches, they are nonetheless a little unclear in their embellishments. Even so, this is a spirited performance with a dramatic emphasis: the contrasts of mood are strong, the singers have believable presence, and their energy is unflagging, even in some of the numbers that are usually omitted in conventional performances. Over the years, Somary's interpretation has been surpassed by other historically informed recordings with better technical and expressive qualities and superior sound quality; yet for all its small flaws, this budget reissue is quite listenable and worth considering if other period Messiahs are unavailable. The sound is quite variable in volume and direction, so this recording is best heard at a fairly high volume setting.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/22/2006
  • Label: Artemis Records
  • UPC: 699675196929
  • Catalog Number: 1969
  • Sales rank: 170,565

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–53 Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56 - George Frideric Handel & Johannes Somary (151:47)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Johannes Somary Primary Artist
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