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George Frideric Handel , Andrew Parrott , The Taverner Consort , James Bowman , Margaret Cable , Joseph Cornwell , David Thomas , Emily van Evera , Emma Kirkby Audio CD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: James Bowman, Margaret Cable, Joseph Cornwell, David Thomas, Emily van Evera, et al.
  • Orchestra: The Taverner Consort
  • Conductor: Andrew Parrott
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (May 7, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Virgin Classics
  • ASIN: B00005TNMM
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,785 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Sinfony Grave/Allegro Moderato
2. Accompagnato: Tenor 'Comfort Ye My People'
3. Air: Tenor 'Ev'ry Valley Shall Be Exalted'
4. Chorus 'And The Glory Of The Lord Shall Be Revealed'
5. Accompagnato:Tenor 'Thus Saith The Lord Of Hosts'
6. Air: Countertenor 'But Who May Abide The Day Of His Coming'
7. Chorus 'And He Shall Purify'
8. Recitative: Alto 'Behold, A Virgin Shall Conceive'
9. Chorus 'O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion'
10. Accompagnato: Bass 'For Behold, Darkness Shall Cover The Earth'
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Accompagnato: Tenor 'All They That See Him, Laugh Him To Scorn'
2. Chorus 'He Trusted In God'
3. Accompagnato: Tenor 'Thy Rebuke Hath Broken His Heart'
4. Arioso: Tenor 'Behold, And See If There Be Any Sorrow'
5. Accompagnato: Soprano II 'He Was Cut Off Out Of The Land Of The Living'
6. Air: Soprano II 'But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul In Hell'
7. Chorus 'Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates'
8. Recitative: Tenor 'Unto Which Of The Angels'
9. Chorus 'Let All The Angels Of God Worship Him'
10. Air: Countertenor 'Thou Art Gone Up On High'
See all 27 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
In December of 1980 I was part of a performance of Messiah for Handel conference here in Ann Arbor. Scholars came from all over the world to present papers on this work and we performed the piece with a very small chamber orchestra, soloists, and a chorus of about 24 singers. It caused quite a stir, but it was very fun to do.

There is scholarly precendent for such small forces. And in fact the massed armies style in vogue in the 1960s and even today was a 19th century cultural phenomenon. But we all know how much fun such a large ensemble can also be. The really neat thing is that this chorus does not sound small. What it sounds is clear and supple. You can hear the counterpoint and that is the point of this kind of music, isn't it?

Large groups can never have the clarity and fluidity of line that can be achieved with what amounts to a chamber ensemble. It bothers some (but not me) that the voices used even for the soloists aren't operatic in the style of the last two centuries. Well, Handel was an EARLY 18th century composer and the operatic voice was quite different then. Still strong, still flexible, but filling a hall that seated 5,000 wasn't necessary and didn't exist.

Anyway, scholarship or no, this is a wonderful performance based on what is known about a performance of this work in 1753. It is full of life and the soloists are terrific. I especially love Emma Kirkby for all kinds of reasons, one of them being she was the soprano soloist for the 1980 performance here in Ann Arbor. The style here is quite declamatory and more operatic than, say, the Hogwood recording from 1980 (although certainly not Verdi). There also seems to be an emphasis on using English vowels rather than Italianate singing vowels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a fantastic performance January 7, 2009
There is no countenancing the rabid review of this set below - I purchased this performance of Messiah as part of a boxed set (paired with Israel In Egypt) and found the interpretation to be completely masterful. Besides the crystal clear intonation of the chorus and orchestra, the spot-on tempos (neither racing fast nor ponderously slow), there is the delicious Emma Kirkby on soprano, the pitch-perfect James Bowman as countertenor, David Thomas as an authoritative Bass, Joseph Cornwell singing a heroic, passionate tenor, and Margaret Cable's creamy, moving Alto solos. But the true heroes of this rendition of Messiah are the Taverner Choir and Players, who, under the sure direction of Andrew Parrott, play and sing as one unit. The sound is remarkably balanced and the performance clean and nuanced. This is a "historically-informed" recording, with period instruments and baroque mannerisms intact. It's lovely in every detail; and of my twenty-odd recordings of Messiah, it ranks in the top three. Essential and, at this AMAZING price, can be recommended by me as a first choice for buyers looking for a complete Messiah.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent "Traditional" Rendition December 12, 2012
This recording is available as a CD set or as part of a boxed set with Israel in Egypt. {BTW - The Parrott led recording of Israel in Egypt is among the finest I've heard.} This Messiah rendition seems familiar - even if you've never heard it before. That's probably due to the slower pacing and the avoidance of dramatic dynamic and tempo changes some conductors prefer. Nonetheless it is an excellent recording! The orchestra is 'spot on'. The soloists [all six of them!] are excellent across the board. But the star of the show is the chorus. They simply nail it. The clarity, precision and wonderful blending of the voices are all superb. The sopranos don't oversing in their high range and the choral balance always seems to be as Handel intended. BTW - I own 9 complete recordings of The Messiah and have sung in more than 40 complete performances. One curious note: this recording along with the Layton/Polyphony/Britten Sinfonia recording offers an abridged version of the Pastoral Symphony; as I enjoy this orchestral work I miss the full 3 minute version. If you want a recording with a lengthy rendtion of the Pastoral Symphony, The Sargent/Royal Liverpool 1959 recording has a 4 1/2 minute version. This Parrott led recording is one you can put into your stereo, sit back in an easy chair, close your eyes and simply revel in what your hear.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Joyless Messiah December 22, 2008
By David
I played this for the first (and probably last) time today and found it a very lugubrious experience. I have 18 recordings of MESSIAH, and this one, unfortunately ranks at the bottom. The conducting is lifeless, and the soloists and Taverner Choir all seem to be just going through the motions. MESSIAH should be a powerful, stirring experience, but that is completely lacking here. There is no emotion, passion, or drama--just a few (barely) smoldering embers, as no one here ever catches fire. I've heard Emma Kirkby, David Thomas and James Bowman in much better form on other recordings. The voices here are all "pretty" and the sound quality is good, but that's about it. I don't see how anyone could be satisfied with this recording of MESSIAH. The soloists and chorus here couldn't sound any more bored and detached if they were singing the phone book. Even at the low price, I definitely would not recommend this recording except to Handel fanatics like myself who have nearly 20 recordings of MESSIAH.
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