Customer Review

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good traditional reading, 27 Sept. 2010
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This review is from: Handel: Messiah (Audio CD)
I bought this because it was cheap. Overall, I got what I paid for.

I confess I like the more recent, smaller ensemble versions of "Messiah", my particular favourite being the Pinnock/English Concert version. For an older recording, I've always liked the Mackerras/ECO recording, which was a sort of half-way house (modern instruments, but smaller ensemble and counter-tenor (memorably Paul Esswood)) between Pinnock and this recording .

Generally, this was very well played and sung. However, I found some of the tempi much too slow and elephantine (such as that of the opening Overture), but this was the traditional approach. The soloists are generally very good, handling the Handel repeating "Sha-hay-hay-hay-hay-hay-hay" enunciations well, without slurring them into a continuous moan, as can happen. The "Rejoice greatly" is the 4/4 version, and is, I think, the best of that version I've heard. The orchestra is first-class.

This is not a version to which I would return often, but it is high up in the second division, and a perfect recommendation for those who prefer the traditional approach.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Apr 2012 14:39:37 BDT
I have recommended your post BUT Handel did write it as a large scale piece. Late in the 18th C it was done with Cecil B de Mille forces. I like it that way and, for once, the Early Music people are wrong to insist on looking at it through the wrong end of a telescope. I once heard the Bach B minor Mass with ONE singer per part in the CHORUS. Try that in the Verdi or Berlioz Requiems. Both approaches have merits. Where i do part company is the use of original instruments. Fine for strings using gut and old bows but modern pianos, wind, brass & percussion instruments are vastly superior. Mozart could not wait to replace the basset horn with the clarinet. Berlioz would have killed for modern brass etc. and Beethoven would have committed murder for a modern Steinway.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 11:57:25 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 May 2012 11:57:50 BDT
Teemacs says:
Thank you. I thought that Handel wrote it for a choir of about 25 - professional singers of course, a substantial corps of which existed back then and to which Handel had access. I am with you, I want a decent chorus - I don't care what is the scholarly justification for one voice per part, the big numbers cry out for the majesty you simply don't get in OVPP. However, one can go too far the other way and end up the the Huddersfield Choral Society-type renditions, and that, to me, is too much.

Interestingly, in the very first performance in Dublin, one of the singers was not really a singer at all - the actress Suzanne Cibber. Her voice was poor, but she sang "He was despisèd" with such feeling that someone in the audience shouted out, "Woman, thy sins are forgiven thee!"

I also don't place much importance on original instruments. I like Gardiner's approach - he liked the sound of the authentic instruments, therefore he went in that direction. He actually didn't care whether it was historical or not. Of course, had Handel and Valentine Snow had access to a modern trumpet, it would have been interesting to hear what "The trumpet shall sound" would have sounded like.
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Teemacs
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