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Handel: Messiah [Box set]

Sir Thomas Beecham Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 10.66 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Destined to become one of the most colourful and controversial of all 20th-century British conductors, Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961) was born in the north-west of England, the son of a successful manufacturing chemist. After a spell at Wadham College, Oxford, he studied privately with Charles Wood in London and Moritz Moszkowski in Paris with the express intention of becoming a ... Read more in Amazon's Sir Thomas Beecham Store

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Product details

  • Performer: Jennifer Vyvyan, Monica Sinclair, Jon Vickers, Giorgio Tozzi
  • Orchestra: Beecham Choral Society, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Sir Thomas Beecham
  • Composer: Georg Friederich Handel
  • Audio CD (15 Aug 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Gold Seal
  • ASIN: B000003FB8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,449 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Messiah - Royal Philharmonic Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
2. And the glory of the Lord - Royal Philharmonic Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
3. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
4. But who may abide - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
5. Messiah - Royal Philharmonic Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
6. Behold, a virgin shall conceive - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
See all 14 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Behold the Lamb of God - Royal Philharmonic Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
2. He was despised - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
3. Messiah - Royal Philharmonic Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
4. All they that see Him - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
5. He trusted in God - Royal Philharmonic Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
6. Thy rebuke hath broken His Heart - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
See all 20 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Messiah - Appendix - Royal Philharmonic Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Product Description

RCA 0902661266 gd; RCA - Italia; Classica vocale Sacra Messe

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How Does One Rate THIS? 4 Aug 2002
Format:Audio CD
I am trying to play by the conventions and give this a 'rating' but my own rating means nothing to me when it comes to this extraordinary Messiah. If, as I hope, I can be any kind of guide to other music lovers here, I suggest they focus on the TYPE of performance this is, as best I can give an impression of it, and sort out their own rating from that. It's in a class of its own and no mistake.
Presumably nobody expects 'authentic' Handel from Beecham. He uses the Goossens orchestation, but he also uses a small chorus. He is not in for speed records in general, and some numbers, e.g. For Unto Us, His Yoke is Easy, seem almost unfamiliar in this post-Hogwood era. What gives the latter chorus its characteristic sound is the skip in the rhythm on the word 'easy', and that is true from Beecham as well as the new school, only it's a completely different effect. Beecham's very slow tempi in the Pastoral Symphony and He Was Despised are romantic and anachronistic beyond argument (I suppose). Where Beecham does go at full lick is in the first half of All We Like Sheep, and there I imagine he is coming to the rescue of the music which is well below the inspirational level of its context, even its own second half.
Another oddity is that the men, both soloists and chorus, are far better than the women. As far as the chorus goes, the contrast is almost painful at the start of For Unto Us and His Yoke. Most chorus masters I have heard of are desperate for tenors. The tenors here are superb, so what happened to the women, and why did the tyrannical Beecham tolerate the situation?
The female soloists are better, but completely outclassed by Vickers and Tozzi. Tozzi is thrilling, colossal, as the Handelian prophet who is like a refiner's fire.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
This unique three-disc set comes with excellent notes and includes an essay by Sir Thomas. The work was digitally re-mastered to produce excellent tonal balance throughout and incredible full frequency sound from the original 1959 recording. Some slight noise is experienced on the very best of modern reproductive equipment, but this does not seriously detract from the performance which ought to to be in every serious collectors possession. Orchestration is by Sir Eugene Goosens, while Sir Thomas admits to some modernisation of the instrumental parts. The soloists are excellent and I especially enjoyed the singing of Monica Sinclair, Mezzo-Soprano though I feel it is unfair to select just one. The third disc in this set contains an appendix of several pieces that over the years have been omitted from Messiah which makes this the definitive and unique album for this work. I am especially pleased to have bought it for myself some years ago and also to have discovered an old edition of Sir Thomas' autobiography, recently republished, entitled "A mingled chime" which complements my collection. This is not for playing only at Christmas.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Messiah to enjoy 8 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Not the most historically authentic Messiah, but surely the version that is the most enjoyable to listen to. The choral singing is outstanding. Beecham's obvious love of the work brings out the best in all concerned. If you have only one performance of The Messiah, this should be it. Then you can consider versions which might possibly have a more historically accurate orchestral sound. But this is a choral masterpiece, the chorus is the thing, and Beecham's is the best.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Authenticists, stay away! 3 April 2008
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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.
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