3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Handel: Messiah (Foundling Hospital Version 1754) (Audio CD)
It really depends on what you want from a Messiah as to what you want hear on a recording. If you like huge choirs of men and women and large orchestras with woodwind, then avoid this recording as it is not your style! However, if you like period instruments, this is a natural choice. The overall sound is sharper and more austere than many recordings, but this is also partly due to its origins.
This is the 1754 version for the Foundling Hospital, when 4 or 6 trebles and 13 men from the Chapel Royal were used as the choir; and two soparanos, an alto, tenor and bass performed the solos. This authentic, documented arrangement is quite different from many modern performances, which also omit half a dozen or so arias and recitatives that are recorded here (including "Death where is thy sting?").
Overall, this recording of Messiah feels right. The dark, scratchy sound from the orchestra is summoned for "He was despised and rejected of men." Emma Kirkby dazzles with clarity in "He is like a refiners fire". The (all important) Hallelujah chorus is strong, confident and has a great finally - but is less exuberant than some. This is made up for by "Worth is a lamb that was slain" that is a wall of sound from the off.
So it won't suit everyone, but it is a cracking version and a great one to have, especially if it is the only one you own!