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Handel: Messiah

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 22, 2006
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 1. Sinfonia
  2. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 2. Recitative. Comfort ye my people
  3. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 3. Air. Ev'ry valley shall be exalted
  4. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 4. Chorus. And the glory, the glory of the Lord
  5. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 5. Recitative. Thus saith the Lord
  6. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 6. Air. But who may abide
  7. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 7. Chorus. And He shall reign
  8. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 8. Recitative. Behold, a virgin shall conceive
  9. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 9. Air. O thou that tellest
  10. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 10. Recitative. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth
  11. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 11. Air. The people that walked in darkness
  12. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 12. Chorus. For unto us a child is born
  13. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 13. Pifa (Pastoral Symphony)
  14. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 14. Recitative. There were shepherds; And lo, the Angel of the Lord
  15. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 15. Recitative. And the angel said unto them
  16. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 16. Recitative. And suddenly, there was with the angel
  17. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 17. Chorus. Glory to God in the highest
  18. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 18. Air. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion
  19. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 19. Recitative. Then shall the eyes of the blind
  20. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 20. Duet. And he shall feed his flock
  21. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. No. 21. Chorus. His yoke is easy
  22. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 22. Chorus. Behold the Lamb of God
  23. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 23. Air. He was despised

Disc: 2

  1. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 24. Chorus. Surely he hath borne our griefs
  2. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 25. Chorus. And with His stripes we are healed
  3. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 26. Chorus. All we like sheep
  4. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 27. Recitative. All they that see Him
  5. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 28. Chorus. He trusted in God
  6. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 29. Recitative. Thy rebuke hath broken His heart
  7. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 30. Air. Behold, and see if there be any sorrow
  8. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 31. Recitative. He was cut off out of the land
  9. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 32. Air. But thou didst not leave
  10. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 33. Chorus. Lift up your heads
  11. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 34. Recitative. Unto which of the angels
  12. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 35. Chorus. Let all the angels of God worship Him
  13. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 36. Air. Thou art gone up on high
  14. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 37. Chorus. The Lord gave the word
  15. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 38. Air. How beautiful are the feet
  16. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 40. Air. Why do the nationa?
  17. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 41. Chorus. Let us break their bonds asunder
  18. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 42. Recitative. He that dwelleth in heaven
  19. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 43. Air. Thou shalt break them
  20. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. No. 44. Chorus. Hallelujah
  21. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. No. 45. Air. I know that my Redeemer liveth
  22. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. No. 46. Chorus. Since by man came death
  23. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. No. 47. Recitative. Behold, I tell you a mystery
  24. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. No. 48. Air. The trumpet shall sound
  25. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. No. 50. Duet. O death, where is thy sting?
  26. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. No. 51. Chorus. But thanks be to God
  27. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. No. 52. Air. If God be for us
  28. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. No. 53. Chorus. Worthy is the Lamb... Amen


Product Details

  • Performer: Margaret Price, Yvonne Minton, Alexander Young, Justino Diaz, Colin Tilney, et al.
  • Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra
  • Conductor: Johannes Somary
  • Composer: George Frederick Handel
  • Audio CD (August 22, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Vanguard Classics
  • ASIN: B000FFL31A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,976 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Margaret Price, Soprano; Yvonne Minton, Alto; Alexander Young, Tenor; Justino Diaz, Bass
Amor Artis Chorale; English Chamber Orchestra; Colin Tilney, Harpsichord & Organ
Johannes Somary, Conductor

This recording of "Messiah" has always been something of a curate's egg. The singing of the 32-voiced Amor Artis Chorale is exemplary, and the solo quartet is arguably the finest available. The sound ain't bad either, especially when one considers the age (early 70s) and that it was recorded for Vanguard in its "Cardinal" series as pretty much a budget/midline LP release. Johannes Somary made his career as a NYC-based conductor who had the fortune of making a series of distinguished Handel recordings for Vanguard during that time. Somary died in February of this year, and this Messiah serves as a nice remembrance of his art, even if the musical approach doesn't reflect advances in scholarship made since it was recorded.

What makes the recording sound dated - or quaint, if you prefer - are the ornaments employed not by the soloists, but by the chorus and even the orchestra. The ornamentation used by the soloists is always tasteful, never over the top and well serves the music and the texts being sung. However, on occasion, certain ornamentation employed by the soloists is mirrored in the orchestra, which is anachronistic at best.

Soloists in the Baroque era did indeed ornament the music before them, but it was more of a spontaneous thing, sort of along the lines of jazz improv today. A great deal of the ornamentation added was certainly thought out and planned ahead of time, leaving room to be spontaneous during performance.
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2 Comments 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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There isn't much that can be added about Handel's Messiah on record. I've lost count of the number of recordings available, ranging from historically-accurate performances with reduced forces on historic instruments and in baroque tuning, all the way to overblown symphonic arrangements with 200-voice choirs and tympani and cymbals crashing during the Hallelujia chorus!

Somary's recording was released on LP in the 1970s and I always felt it filled a comfortable gap with a good sized chamber orchestra and chorus, excellent soloists with tasteful vocal ornamentation (for all of the soloists, not just for the soprano), a clean, clear acoustic, and the kind of dynamics and tempi that would be acceptable for both "period" music lovers and those wanting a more conventional performance. Now in its second CD reissue on Vanguard, I can wholly recommend it as a reasonable alternative to other Messiahs on CD, particularly to Colin Davis' classic Phillps recording. The original Vanguard LP was also produced in SQ Quadraphonic, and of course I wonder if Vangaurd would ever see fit to do an SACD version in the future. Until then, this performance is most enjoyable, and a bargain at that.
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This remastered recording isn't 'historically informed' as the modern 'period' performances are.
Johannes Somary nonetheless deployed an ensemble of instruments and singers that more than adequately conveyed the musicality of Handel's greatest sacred work.
The tempi are very well paced, neither too slack nor too quick, though it is by no means 'brisk' in the sense of the modern 'period' performances.
The major attraction to me comes in the form of the tenor Alexander Young and the soprano Margaret Price.
There aren't too many recordings available now of these two top singers. Price and Young both owned a voice that I would term 'dramatic' in the realm of sacred music. Young owned a timbre that has more depth and colour than many 'sacred' tenors in those times: Ernest Haefliger and later Peter Schreier, to name two outstanding examples. At its best, Young's timbre reminds one of Fritz Wunderlich's superbly rich lyrical tenor. Margaret Price's voice has an expressiveness and tonal purity that was a clear edge above the likes of Edith Mathis, Helen Donath, Arleen Auger, et. al.
While the conducting and overall effect of this recording may not be able to top the one by Karl Richter and his Munich Bach Orchestra and Choir, the singing of Young and Price made up for any possible small deficiency.
If you are not in for a 'period' performance of the Messiah, this one would rank among the foremost choices.
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This same recording (at least, all the same soloists in a very similar recording) is a part of the Bach Guild "Big Christmas Box" Big Christmas Box. At the time of this writing, that l3 hour set was $0.99.

The recording itself, as other reviewers have noted, is a nice middle of the road between hyper HIP and the old huge chorus recordings performed in a Brahmsian style. Very nice addition to the collection.
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