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4.5 out of 5 stars34
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 25 March 2011
In 1959, when I was 14 years old my father bought me a 7" mono EP of three excerpts of this recording, no doubt believing I needed some uplifting music! The "Hallelujah" Chorus, of course, went down very well, but I thought the other two tracks were a bit heavy going, and perhaps not helped by the rather soggy sound of my father's HMV radiogram.

In the intervening years, I have listened to a number of live performances and had acquired several recordings on CD and which I subsequently passed on as none gave me the same feeling of joy as when I listened to that original mono recording of Hallelujah, all those years ago. Oddly, the one recording I didn't try was this one, mainly because I missed its being released. It has been a long time coming, but for me now, I have the perfect recording and performance of this work.

Reading Sir Malcolm's original 1959 liner notes which have been retained for this release, is a revelation in itself. Even way back then he was pointing out the deficiencies and problems faced with trying to create an "authentic" performance when Handel left so little behind to guide a conductor as to how the work should be performed. Essentially then, what we hear today has more to do with the conductor's vision as opposed to Handel's.

"Messiah" is an English Oratorio in the true sense, it is not something sung in an English translation of a foreign text. It therefore benefits from having native singers whose diction is first rate. And you certainly get this from the singers on this recording. Clear diction also extends to the 100 strong hand-picked members of the Huddersfield Choral Society, that great body of singers who have a tradition of singing Messiah in their blood. You should be aware then, that this is a performance on the grand scale, a traditionally English view of "Messiah".

But the "miracle" hear is the balance between the orchestra, soloists and the large choir. It is all placed in a fairly natural and open acoustic. So no part outdoes the other, such that the sound engineer has done a marvellous job at keeping the whole sound clean and even when the choir is singing its loudest, they are not distorted. The soloists can be heard against the orchestra and the various sections of the choir are all distinct and with that very clear diction of theirs that means the sound never gets "thick". Do no look down on this recording because if dates from 1959. The remastering for CD is superb.

Sir Malcolm was one of a handful of conductors who, in my opinion, never sought effects in his music making, preferring to let the music speak for itself. His interpretation in this performance seems to have a naturalness and flow that just seems right.
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on 25 March 2015
The review by Princess Idea seems to have wrongly linked to this version. The version they refer to is the Sir Malcolm Sargent performance for a Reader's Digest release in the 1960's. This version dates from 1959 with Elsie Morison, Marjorie Thomas, Richard Lewis and one of the last recordings made by James Milligan, before his untimely death. Wonderful throughout and a testament to great performances.
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on 13 January 2011
I have collected several versions of Haendel's Messiah over the years, and this one is by far the best. Brilliant choral and solo singing, fast-paced but never rushed, superb solos, a really exciting version of this great classic.
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on 3 April 2015
There are so many recordings of Messiah, in an almost equal number of interpretations, that comparing them is exceedingly difficult. I may be odd but dependent upon the mood I am in I sometimes enjoy a full orchestra, large choir with an almost Victorian interpretation, whereas at other times a more original setting appeals to the purist in me (if I dare venture such a quality). So I have several versions and pick and choose dependent upon my mood. This recording gives a brilliant interpretation if its kind and I am pleased to have it. Played it in the car a few evenings ago during a somewhat tedious journey down the M5 - how the time passed!
What I would really enjoy, but have never found so such a thing might not exist, is a John Tobin recording - brilliant interpretation which I heard several times in the RFH.
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on 25 December 2015
While I love the Sargent / Huddersfield / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic recording (and specifically ordered it because I remember it from LPs from my childhood), I was disappointed that one of the discs in the delivered CD set was from the Solti / Chicago Symphony & Chorus recording. In other words, I only got one-half of the recording which I ordered. To make matters worse, both discs were "disc 2" of their respective sets. So I wound up with two 2nd halves of "Messiah" and no Part 1 disc.
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on 12 January 2012
This is a fine recording by Harry Christophers and the Sixteen Choir and Orchestra,
with an excellent line-up of soloists. With relatively small forces the balance of the choir sections, the clarity of pronunciation and feeling for the words are very noticable. Highly recommended.
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on 7 December 2013
I really enjoy the choir, orchestra and conductor of this edition. It takes my back nearly to my childhood. I listen to it in the night when I cannot get to sleep because of pain. it is wonderful in every way.
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on 20 September 2008
Bought this disc on the back of a rave review from one of the Sunday papers (Times, I think) but have been rather disappointed. the soloists are fine but the choral and orchestral parts sound thin and anaemic to me. I'm going to look for a more 'traditional' version like the Colin Davis perhaps. I'm untutored in music but this version seems to lack conviction, which is what I think Messiah needs. Maybe a more knowledgeable person would like this but it doesn't stir me (or it appears, the performers)the way I think The Messiah should.
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on 17 June 2015
Just the item to help practice for concert.
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on 16 November 2013
A full messiah with all the tracks and some wonderful solos. Brought back memories of my younger days. As with many old recordings there is some static noise noticeable.
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