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Handel: Messiah Dublin Version, 1742

Imported ed.

Hybrid SACD

4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Dunedin Consort's Dublin version of Messiah was Linn's fastest selling album of 2006 and was described in many publications as the top choice Messiah for 2006. The recording was given four stars by The Times, The Guardian and BBC Music Magazine, chosen as 'Album of the Day' on AllMusic.com and selected in The Scotsman's 'Top Ten classical music moments of 2006'.

This sought-after recording was also nominated in the 2007 Gramophone Awards.

What makes this Messiah so special is that it is the first recording to seriously explore the version and performing forces that Handel used for his legendary Dublin premiere. This unique recording signifies an exciting and historically considered representation of Messiah, which recaptures something of the freshness of the first public performances.

"The freshest, most natural, revelatory and transparently joyful Messiah I have heard for a very long time." Gramophone

Top Ten classical music moment of 2006: "If I had to make a choice between recordings, my money would go on Dunedin's Messiah." The Scotsman

"Youth, freshness, joy: these are the chief characteristics of this intimate new Messiah from the talented Dunedin Consort." (four stars) The Times

"Butt has an authoritative bass in Matthew Brook, and a superb contralto (one of three) in Clare Wilkinson." (four stars) The Guardian

"The Dunedin artists are stylish, fresh sounding in their choral singing and often more intimate than other versions in their manner of communication."
Performance (four stars) / Sound (four stars) BBC Music Magazine

"Here's a reconstruction of the premiere in Dublin - and it's very welcome. Nothing but praise." Classic FM Magazine

Album of the Day: "One of the most compelling and engaging Messiahs on disc." Allmusic.com

"In some ways the most interesting [new Messiah recording] is the Linn recording. The playing of the Dunedin Players under John Butt is admirably crisp, and the singing of the Consort disciplined and clear in enunciation." Sunday Telegraph

Review

From our Linn friends in Scotland comes an attractive new recording of Handel's Messiah in the 1742 Dublin version, performed by the Dunedin Consort and Players under director John Butt. Why Dublin? One reason that comes to mind is that it was the first place where Handel's masterpiece was a success. Hard as it is to believe in view of the fact that Messiah is now a universal classic (it was, in fact, the first classic, in terms of being revived year after year, in the history of music), it was a dismal failure in its early performances in London. The change of scenery was just the tonic it needed. The lilting quality of Handel's arias must have appealed strongly to the Irish. In addition, Dublin was far enough away that Handel was able to use one of his favorite singers, Susannah Cibber, who was then box office poison in London due to an extramarital affair that had dragged through the courts. In the Dublin version, he gave her many of the recitatives and arias that we are accustomed to hearing sung by other, particularly tenor, voices, including the final aria "If God be for us." (In this recording, her part is sung very capably by contralto Claire Wilkinson.) Always the resourceful composer, Handel was adept at tailoring the vocal parts to the singers at hand. One striking difference is the soprano aria "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Sion," which sounds quite different from the version we're used to hearing due to the additional color and the bouncy spring rhythm Handel added to his writing.(Here, the part is sung by Susan Hamilton, whose light soprano is a pure pleasure whenever heard.) On the other hand, the Dublin version of the bass aria "And I will shake all nations" doesn't have the sensational trumpet-like intonazione that we're accustomed to hearing, though in other respects the part (sung here by Matthew Brook) follows the familiar lines. Through historical research, the Dunedin Consort determined that Handel had a small chorus available in Dublin, no more than three or four voices to a part. Here the vocalists (who include, besides those already mentioned, tenor Nicholas Mulroy and alto Annie Gill) double as members of the ensemble. The big choruses in Messiah ("Unto us a Child is born," "Worthy is the Lamb," and of course, "Hallelujah!") are accordingly not the sonic blockbusters we are used to hearing. On the other hand, the Consort can sing in a more relaxed manner, so the choruses can be smoother and less hurried. An additional plus is the excellent diction of these singers (should that surprise us about the Scots?). This is one time when you don't need to have the booklet firmly in hand in order to understand an oratorio in English! Special kudos for trumpet players Chris Dicken and Paul Sharp in the splendid final chorus. In conclusion, this Messiah is different, but with an undeniable charm that is hard to resist. --Atlanta Audio Society Newsletter --Bloomberg.com

ALBUM OF THE DAY This recording of the Messiah by the Dunedin Consort is based on a reconstruction of the original version premiered in Dublin in 1742. The Dublin version is rarely performed because the composer had simplified parts in deference to the vocal limitations of some of the local soloists, because it is not as complete as later versions of the score and because revisions Handel made after the first performance have become standard. This recording also seeks to duplicate the original performing forces as authentically as possible by having the soloists perform the choruses, as well, using a total of only 12 singers. The result is remarkably and refreshingly intimate. In spite of the modesty of scale, conductor John Butt leads a reading that never sounds small or limited; the performers convey the full extent of the work's wide emotional range. The size of the chorus allows for an unusually light touch in the movements requiring choral coloratura, and the Dunedin Consort responds nimbly. The soloists are all of the highest quality, with youthful-sounding voices more robust and less mannered than what one generally associates with the English oratorio tradition. Bass Matthew Brook's "But who may abide the Day of His Coming," is delivered with astonishing breath control and power. Nicholas Mulroy's virile tenor gives "Comfort ye," a welcome solidity. Contralto Clare Wilkinson sings "He shall feed His flock," with breathtaking poignancy, as intimately as a lullaby. Soprano Susan Hamilton sings "I know that my Redeemer liveth," with stunning simplicity and purity. Annie Gill's contralto is sweet and light in "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion." All the soloists communicate with a naturalness and directness that create an unusually intense sense of drama; despite having disciplined and beautifully modulated voices, they sing as if they are telling a personal and deeply felt story, in the tradition of the best folk singers. The orchestra responds to Butt's leadership with a lively and well-balanced performance. The SACD recording is clear and present, and details emerge with the vivid characteristic of chamber music. In every aspect, this is one of the most compelling and engaging Messiahs on disc. --AllMusic.com

Recently released on Linn, Dunedin Consort's recording of the 1742 Dublin version of "Messiah" - Handel adjusted the allocation of arias according to the performers - is one of the most intimate "Messiahs" available. The choruses are sung by only 12 singers, and though the "multitude of the heavenly host" sounds like a madrigal group, it is fascinating to hear Handel's textures so clearly. The orchestra, directed from the keyboard by musicology maven John Butt, provides beautifully detailed accompaniment, with some notably fine colours from the violas and a very expressive "Pastoral Symphony" or "Pifa". Matthew Brook's bass arias are also impressive. His is a name to watch. --Bloomberg.com

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Product details

  • Performer: Susan Hamilton, Annie Gill, Clare Wilkinson, Nicholas Mulroy, Matthew Brook
  • Orchestra: Dunedin Consort & Players
  • Conductor: John Butt
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (January 1, 2006)
  • Imported ed. edition
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: Linn
  • ASIN: B000K2Q7PK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,047 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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