While I am not by any means an original instrument/performance purist, even I find myself balking at the leisurely swagger of so many of the tempi adopted here (although Sir Thomas scampers through "For we, like sheep" as if he cannot wait to be rid of the embarrassment of it) and the rather disconcerting woodwind twiddles, flutey noodlings, lush horns and timpani bashings with which the Goossens orchestration (or was it more the work of Beecham himself?) graces us - yet I will readily admit that I really enjoy this rendering of Handel's inexhaustible masterpiece, done con amore as only Beecham could do it. The slow tempi certainly allow a clear articulation and a grandeur of utterance which are not unbecoming to such theologically elevated music.
The soloists are very fine, especially the men; Vickers obviously has a heroic tenor very different from the rather hooty, throaty tenorino so often wheeled out these days for this music (I mention no British tenors whose weedy sound is so inexplicably prized...) and he articulates the recitative with real depth of feeling. Tozzi, likewise, is a tower of strength - you can just luxuriate in the smooth treacle of that bass. The women are stalwarts of that era; fine artists both.
It's not the only "Messiah" you will want to hear; there is room for a less reverential, more animated and generally more lightly sprung interpretation but in many ways it brings you closer to the emotional heart of this music than many an underpowered, chilly and spare "original instruments" version. (Actually, Beecham's orchestra and choir are not that big compared with the Victorian blockbuster style which preceded it; it's just the ponderous tempi and extra orchestration which create an impression of additional weight.)
So buy this - it's very reasonably priced and beautifully recorded for its 1959 provenance - and enjoy it for what it is: Beecham's tribute to a master composer.