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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Handel: Messiah
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:$34.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on January 14, 2012
This is the best Messiah CD I have ever heard. Very clear, very professional, very musical, so satisfied with my purchase. Worth every penny. Hearing a countertenor perform in some of the pieces is interesting also.
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on June 20, 2009
The product arrived quickly and was in excellent condition. This recording of the Messiah is the best I have run across. The singing is superb and it is very easy to understand the words.
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HALL OF FAMEon December 16, 2012
Despite the off-putting cover art, Hockox leads a competitive Messiah in the hybrid category launched in the Sixties by Colin Davis. One of the great strengths of Davis's groundbreaking recording was the solo singing, and Hockox has found nearly the best singers since then, thanks to the young Bryn Terfel's commanding performance and Philip Langridge's superior tenor. Both are fine enough to erase memories of the woolly, discreet oratorio style of the past. Countertenor Christopher Robson is also quite musical and possessed of an attractive voice, although frankly I would have preferred to hear Terfel sing "For he is like a refiner's fire." At least we have the thrill of "Why do the nations" and a glorious "The trumpet shall sound" - have either been better done on records?

Alto Della Jones gets a share of the arias usually assigned to a woman rather than a countertenor, such as "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion," but she's rather matronly in delivery, harking back to an earlier age. Her technique is good, but she has no charisma. The one singer who must have charisma is the soprano, who is given the most beautiful arias. Without effacing memories of Jennifer Vyvyan and Heather Harper, Joan Rodgers does very well. She has the "virtuous" sound demanded by "I know that my Redeemer liveth," done with touching sincerity. On the whole, though, it's the male side of the solo quintet that shines.

The solo singing has no real air of HIP style, leaving aside a few ornamentations, which is why this is a hybrid performance; the Collegium Musicum 90 is a period group, so against Joan Rodgers' fluttery vibrato we get no vibrato in the strings. the meeting of opposites remains very pleasing nonetheless, and the engineers have managed to make the harpsichord audible without gross exaggeration. the small chorus sings very expertly. As for Hickox himself, leading the standard performing edition, he splits the difference between the Messiah as religious work and as theater piece. I wish her were more consistent. Langridge dramatizes "Ev'ry valley" to exciting effect, but then we drop into a placid "And the glory of the Lord."

Despite its tame moments, this performance benefits from Hickox's great experience as a choral conductor. Nothing is anemic or dry, which cannot be said of esteemed HIP Messiahs under Gardiner and Pinnock. The touchstone, as ever, is the Hallelujah Chorus, which really should resound to the hills - Hickox comes closer than most. (It's hard to find a HIP reading, however skillful, where the Hallelujah's don't sound like calling the waiter for more hot water.)

I'd want to own this recording if only for Terfel's great singing, but enough of the rest is so good that it makes a solid recommendation for anyone who likes a reduced Messiah that boasts robust singing.
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on January 1, 2003
This recording of the Messiah has become my favorite. I was raised on the common full-orchestra/large chorus versions, and later in my life came to prefer the 1743 "early" versions. I find the clean orchestration much more pleasant. Up until now, I've enjoyed the Marriner production. However, I find the Hickox version to have a crisper orchestral sound. My own training and experience is as a vocalist, and the chorus in the Hickox production is sublime. Every consonant of each singer is pronounced identically and at the same time, producing a clarity rarely heard in choruses. There is space between the words, so you can actually understand them! The soloists are great - Rodgers' soprano clear but light, Landgridge's tenor very enjoyable, and Terfel great as usual. There are a number of places where Hickox uses changes in dynamics not often heard, to add interest and emotion. But I think my favorite move of his is that he slows down somewhat for a legato "Amen." So many conductors run through that so fast, as if they can't wait for the darned thing to be over. Hickox takes it with majesty and treats it as a beautiful, reverent ending to one of the world's greatest, enduring musical masterpieces. If you're a fan of choirs with really good technique, this is for you.
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on October 10, 2014
My favorite Messiah of the many I have lived with. The choral phrasings are wonderful, it's splendidly recorded, and Terfl is perhaps the best I have ever heard in the bass arias. Hickox was a special and underrated conductor.
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