Handel's Messiah

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maestrob
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Handel's Messiah

Post by maestrob » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:57 pm

During the 1970's, I had the pleasure of singing Handel's Messiah roughly 65-70 times in both Avery Fisher (then a/k/a Philharmonic) Hall and Carnegie Hall with David Randolph, in about 6-8 performances per season. Working with Randolph was an inspiration, and I never grew tired of his very individual interpretation of Handel's masterpiece.

Since then tastes have changed and, although Randolph was (almost) at the cutting edge of musical thought in those days, times have moved on, and many fine recordings of Messiah have been made since then.

What are your favorites today, fellow CMGers?

Jared
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by Jared » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:08 pm

I'm afraid that, like most threads on CMG, I am unable to contribute very much mb... at present, I only have two versions, both of which I like very much; Harry Christophers with BBC Phil and Huddersfield Choral Soc, and this:

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however have just added a 3rd, to be listened to this Xmas...

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in general, I like smaller forces with HIP for Handel, and I'm sure these interpretations will suffice for some time to come...

:D

Bro
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by Bro » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:28 pm

I don't have any preference as far as the size of the forces involved. I like the Bernstein and Klemperer, both highly cut, and unfashionably romanticized. The Shaw version is good too. Maybe a good compromise for those who want authenticity without the screeching violins (ie. period instruments.)

Bro

IcedNote
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by IcedNote » Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:40 pm

I'm actually seeing it live for the first time today: Jeffrey Thomas leading his American Bach Soloists. Looking forward to it!

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

Marc
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by Marc » Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:11 pm

Not easy to pick my personal choices, but this one by Colin Davis will always remain a steady favourite:

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Of the HIP-recordings I would probably pick this one by Ton Koopman, even though William Christia and the earlier mentioned Trevor Pinnock have delivered some nice performances, too. Koopman maybe sounds less perfect, but more involved. It's a live recording btw.

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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by stenka razin » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:22 pm

I rather like Sir Charles Mackerras(EMI) and Sir Colin Davis(Philips). 8)


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Mel 8)
Last edited by stenka razin on Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Wallingford
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by Wallingford » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:38 pm

Bernstein's.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by RebLem » Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:23 pm

I own the following Messiahs:

1. Davis, London Sym Orch & Choir, Heather Harper, Helen Watts, John Wakefield, John Sirley-Quirk
2. Jacobs, Freiberger Barockorchester, The Choir of Clare College, Kerstin Avemo, Patricia Bardon, Lawrence Zazzo, Kobie van Rensburg, Neal Davies
3. Mackerras (1966), English Chamber Orch., Ambrosian Singers, Elizabeth Harwood, Janet Baker, Paul Esswood, Robert Tear, Raimund Herincx
4. Marriner, ASMF Orch and Cho, Elly Ameling, Anna Reynolds, Philip Langridge, Gwynne Howell
5. McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque Orch, UC Berkeley Chamber Cho., Lorraine Hunt, Janet Williams, Patricia Spence, Drew Minter, Jeffrey Thomas, William Parker
6. Pinnock, The English Concert & Choir, Arleen Auger, Anne Sofie von Otter, Michael Chance, Howard Crook, John Tomlinson
7. Sargent, Royal Liverpool Phil Orch, Huddersfield Choral Society, Elsie Morison, Marjorie Thomas, Richard Lewis, James Milligan
8. Solti, Chicago Sym Orch & Chorus, Kiri te Kanawa, Anne Gjevang, Keith Lewis, Gwynne Howell

The three in red are my favorites, but the Mackerras most of all. Lots of ornamentation, and Janet Baker is simply peerless in He was despised, which sends chills down my spine.
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John F
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by John F » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:18 am

Marc wrote:Not easy to pick my personal choices, but this one by Colin Davis will always remain a steady favourite
For me too.

Charles Mackerras's recording of about the same time has also been mentioned in this thread, but for me the added ornamentation (written out rather than improvised) is overdone. Mackerras was a pioneer in getting away from the literalistic notes-on-the-page performance of 18th century music, with a Sadler's Wells "Marriage of Figaro" opening many ears. But that battle has now been won, and these early skirmishes paradoxically sound dated.
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IcedNote
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by IcedNote » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:00 am

I was very impressed with the performance tonight. HIPP all the way. And the four soloists all have tremendous credentials:

Mary Wilson, soprano
Ian Howell, countertenor
Charles Blandy, tenor
Jesse Blumberg, baritone

I'd seen/heard Blumberg and Howell before, and both were excellent again. Wilson and Blandy were incredible as well.

For you collectors out there, they issued a recording of it back in 2005 (info below):

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Handel: Messiah
Arianna Zukerman, Daniel Taylor, Steven Tharp, William Sharp; Jeffrey Thomas, conductor. DELOS INTERNATIONAL DE-3360 (2005).

2-CD set.

This audiophile recording was made in the state-of-the-art Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of UC Davis.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

david johnson
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by david johnson » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:51 am

w/o doubt, the Sir Thomas Beecham/Eugene Goosens version :)

barney
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by barney » Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:42 am

I have Hogwood, Pinnock, Mackerras and Boult plus an Australian account (if memory serves) under Antony Walker.

Mackerras is the version I grew up with, andI still think it beautifully balanced and paced. But in general I appreciate HIP (provided it is in a small hall with smallish forces).

On Saturday I went to the MSO under Reinhard Goebbels, a noted baroque conductor, doing the Messiah. Actually a Bach concert of his earlier this year is the only one for years I have walked out at interval, I was so furious at his tempi - so fast no voices could be heard, and even the main themes could not be adequately articulated.

He was still a bit like that, though more flexible. I wondered if he thought we still had 10 o clock closing in Melbourne, and he had to save half an hour so he could make the pub to get a drink before it shut. He was flying along with the tenor a pace behind, unable to keep up. But mostly it was very fine, and two thirds of the audience gave a standig ovation. It was in a small hall with smallish forces, and fantastic accoustic.

It was the Mozart orchestration, which I heartily commend as a fascinating alternative. Eg no continuo, woodwind greatly strengthened instead. Trombones and horns introduced. The Trumpet Shall Sound clearly suffered dramatically. Anyway, Handfel always shines through, however good or bad the performance. A great, great masterwork.

josé echenique
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by josé echenique » Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:26 am

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Since it first appeared some 12 years ago, the superbly elegant William Christie version in Harmonia Mundi has been my # 1 choice. The soloists are all excellent, and the marvelous chorus and orchestra are beyond reproach. Some say that this versions sounds a little French, but there is no question about Christie´s superior vision and incomparable execution.

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The Scottish Dunedin Consort version has been very well received by the English press. It´s certainly very well done, but the best thing about it is the spectacular, ultra-refined sound.

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And although inevitably sounding a little dated, I have a soft spot for Raymond Leppard´s 1976 ERATO version. The best thing about it are the incomparable soloists, perhaps still the finest quartet in any recording: Felicity Palmer, Helen Watts, Ryland Davies and John Shirley Quirk. How they enunciate the English language!!!!

Istvan
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by Istvan » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:17 am

I very much like the version on Vanguard Classics. This is conducted by Julius Somary in a performance mid-way between the 'romantic' style and the modern. Soloists include Margaret Price and Alexander Young, who is superb not only in his supremely stylish singing but in the emotion he conveys in the part.
Cheers

Istvan

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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:02 am

I understand it has the occasional catchy tune, but, I really don't understand the fasciation with the Messiah, certainly not something I play more than once a decade...in fact I doubt that I have played it since the Last Century...
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IcedNote
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by IcedNote » Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:55 am

Chalkperson wrote:I understand it has the occasional catchy tune, but, I really don't understand the fasciation with the Messiah, certainly not something I play more than once a decade...in fact I doubt that I have played it since the Last Century...
Gotta agree with this. Actually, I feel that way about Handel in general. Here's how I explained it to my friend after the show: Handel writes a lot of good music but lacks the flashes of genius to push it over the top.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

John F
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by John F » Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:47 am

A work containing the Hallelujah chorus lacks "flashes of genius"? That number alone is full of them.

John Francis

maestrob
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by maestrob » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:38 am

IcedNote wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:I understand it has the occasional catchy tune, but, I really don't understand the fasciation with the Messiah, certainly not something I play more than once a decade...in fact I doubt that I have played it since the Last Century...
Gotta agree with this. Actually, I feel that way about Handel in general. Here's how I explained it to my friend after the show: Handel writes a lot of good music but lacks the flashes of genius to push it over the top.

-G
Depends on the performers, fellows! :wink: Like any great piece of music, it can be ruined by a weak performance.

josé echenique
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by josé echenique » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:29 pm

IcedNote wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:I understand it has the occasional catchy tune, but, I really don't understand the fasciation with the Messiah, certainly not something I play more than once a decade...in fact I doubt that I have played it since the Last Century...
Gotta agree with this. Actually, I feel that way about Handel in general. Here's how I explained it to my friend after the show: Handel writes a lot of good music but lacks the flashes of genius to push it over the top.

-G
I have no problem naming Handel one of the 3 greatest composers ever, next to Mozart and Bach. Beethoven would have agreed to that 8)
Messiah is an absolute masterpiece, but it´s not his greatest oratorio musically, that would be Theodora, a sacred piece of music worthy to stand next to Bach´s Passions, and when one thinks of the dozens of masterpieces that he composed: Jephtha, Solomon, Saul, Giulio Cesare, Alcina, Orlando, Ariodante, Partenope, Rodelinda, Semele, Hercules, Alexander´s Feast, The Ode for St. Cecilia´s Day, the Concerti Grossi Op.6, etc.
One can only say: Thank you Mr. Handel.

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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:38 pm

josé echenique wrote:One can only say: Thank you Mr. Handel.
Actually, I think it's Handel's parents you should be thanking... :wink:
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josé echenique
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by josé echenique » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:02 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
josé echenique wrote:One can only say: Thank you Mr. Handel.
Actually, I think it's Handel's parents you should be thanking... :wink:
Well, I´ll thank them too! :D

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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by Jared » Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:03 pm

IcedNote wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:I understand it has the occasional catchy tune, but, I really don't understand the fasciation with the Messiah, certainly not something I play more than once a decade...in fact I doubt that I have played it since the Last Century...
Gotta agree with this. Actually, I feel that way about Handel in general. Here's how I explained it to my friend after the show: Handel writes a lot of good music but lacks the flashes of genius to push it over the top.

-G
I am surprised you both feel this way... I've listened to it a couple of times over the past few days and I love it.. it grows on me with each listen... and the 'catchy tunes' seem to be more than occasional... each to his own, I suppose.. :)

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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:26 pm

Jared wrote:
IcedNote wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:I understand it has the occasional catchy tune, but, I really don't understand the fasciation with the Messiah, certainly not something I play more than once a decade...in fact I doubt that I have played it since the Last Century...
Gotta agree with this. Actually, I feel that way about Handel in general. Here's how I explained it to my friend after the show: Handel writes a lot of good music but lacks the flashes of genius to push it over the top.

-G
I am surprised you both feel this way... I've listened to it a couple of times over the past few days and I love it.. it grows on me with each listen... and the 'catchy tunes' seem to be more than occasional... each to his own, I suppose.. :)
There is so much more Music than we can rightly consume, I think the Messiah is highly overrated, Handel produced many great works, this is merely his most famous one...
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by rogch » Sun Dec 25, 2011 11:01 am

I am by no means an expert in this work, but i think The Dunedin Consort on Linn is satisfying. Actually i didn't care too much about Messiah before i heard this recording. I have not heard Harnoncourt in this work. It seems to be a controversial recoring, but i tend to like Harnoncourt's controversial recordings...
Roger Christensen

"Mozart is the most inaccessible of the great masters"
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josé echenique
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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by josé echenique » Sun Dec 25, 2011 11:52 am

rogch wrote:I am by no means an expert in this work, but i think The Dunedin Consort on Linn is satisfying. Actually i didn't care too much about Messiah before i heard this recording. I have not heard Harnoncourt in this work. It seems to be a controversial recoring, but i tend to like Harnoncourt's controversial recordings...
The problem with -both- of Harnoncourt´s Messiahs (TELDEC and RCA) is his unidiomatic soloists, not his conducting.

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Re: Handel's Messiah

Post by bombasticDarren » Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:04 am

I listened to the McCreesh Messiah on Christmas Eve and found it thoroughly engaging and enjoyable. My initial experience via Colin Davis had been underwhelming. So, a success :D

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