This production of Handel's Messiah returns to its original form with a tiny chorus formed by its soloists. Each singer's part is clear and poignant, showing the dramatic variety of colour and tone, matching the libretto's content. I found the small chorus allowed a superb balance between the instruments and voices, and - without the blasts from a huge choir - I appreciated subtlety of Handel's composition and the pieces, usually dominated by crowd-pleasing Halleljah, shined. A CD to be treasured. I highly recommend it. (with full libretto and usual performance details thoughtfully provided)
This is small-scale, intimate and crystal clear, "Messiah" as Handel first conceived it. His original versions of various numbers (which are what you get here) are different to the versions in common use today: "But who may abide the day of his coming" is almost unrecognisable, but absolutely beautiful nevertheless. No grand choruses or blurred diction here - just a collection of soloists, a small instrumental ensemble and endlessly varying colours. Buy this if you want a beautifully performed and recorded performance of Handel's original version. If you want a "traditional" Messiah, look for another recording, BUT buy this also, because it's a beautiful revelation and sufficiently different to justify a place in your collection. I played this to a gathering of friends a few Christmases ago, and they were bowled over by it.
It uses small forces, both vocally and musically and takes the lead singers from the vocal group itself. So there are no 'star' performers as such and for me this makes a more intimate and very satisfying Messiah.
I have to admit that I am not adverse to a big band performance but at home this is my favourite version - and astonishing value at the price charged. Another winner from Naxos and worthy to rank alongside their version of Purcell's Fairy Queen.