Customer Review

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars vigorously dramatic, and a typical recording, but not clear, 1 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Handel: Messiah (Audio CD)
In the same way that Naxos' New College Oxford recording of "Messiah" is an example of the English Cathedral tradition, this recording is a great sample of the choral society tradition. Although the recording includes some huge names from the world of classical music, I was not over-enthralled by the recording as a whole. The age of the recording (1966) is made obvious in the quality of sound, and the entire ensemble is too big to hear the words properly, and of course this is reflected in the acoustic. The presentation is acceptable, but the sleeve notes are inadequate and the text is not provided. However, what this recording does have is drama and vigour in abundance.

The chorus sing very accurately (particularly the tenors), with good intonation and, for a choral society, with relatively clear diction. The orchestra are accurate enough, but tend to go for the loud "wow" factor, instead of focussing on the more intimate details of the score. Such huge choral and orchestral forces do not allow for sufficient clarity in parts, particularly in the lower registers.

However, the greatest fault with this recording is the soloists. The opening tenor solo "Comfort ye" is attacked by John Wakefield, with an inappropriately dominating vibrato. The Soprano, Heather Harper, simply belts out "I know that my redeemer liveth", particularly in the higher register, with a style more akin to Puccini than Handel. Helen Watts gives an assured and heart-felt performance of "But who may abide", and she has a real strength in her lower register, but, again, the style is too grand and operatic for the subtle details and intricate workings of the score. Perhaps the best soloist is John Shirley-Quirk, who generally gives a more appropriately restrained performance, but without losing the rich sonority of his voice, or the rhythmic vitality in the famous "shakes".

In many ways whichever Messiah recording one buys rests on what one is looking for. If you would like to hear a performance in the true choral society tradition - like one might hear every year in Huddersfield - then look no further, as this is the finest recording in that tradition. But if you would prefer a recording in the Cathedral tradition, look for Naxos' New College Oxford recording - a superbly accurate and precise recording with the Academy of Ancient Music, outstanding soloists, perfect acoustic, and a truly authentic Baroque performance (note, however, that this recording varies slightly from the score we know so well, as it is the composer's 1751 edition, although I found it to be even more enjoyable!)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.8 out of 5 stars (53 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (43)
4 star:
 (7)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 599,176