Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|George Frideric Handel, Valentin Radu, Julianne Baird|
Handel - Messiah / Baird · Lane · Price · Deas · Ama Deus Ens. · Radu
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Despite warts, an intriguing performance
Gregory M. Zinkl | Chicago, IL | 12/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here are my favorite aspects: 1) The diction is AMAZING! Every word is clearly heard. You will not need a libretto at all. 2) The conducting is interesting; Radu gives the impression that he actually *knows* the text, and the message that Handel wanted when he penned the music. 3) the engineering is fine. 4) the female soloists are excellentWhat don't I like? 1) The ensemble playing is less than clean. Yes, the attacks are there, but often intonation is not. The trumpet's big moment in "The Trumpet Shall Sound" is not very clean--and that's one of my favorite moments! 2) The choir seems poorly balanced in favor of the higher voices. 3) The orchestra is very small and sounds it. 4) Radu in his attempts to make points sometimes man-handles the music. 5) the male soloists, while pleasant, are outshone by their female colleagues.So why 5 stars? Because even though there are some definite warts, the overall impact of the performance is terrific! When comparing this to the Bach Collegium performance on BIS, a favorite, I feel that the two recordings can be categorized as flashy, if rough-and-ready (Vox), while the other is polished, reverant and beautiful (BIS)."
Bargain CD is a real treasure!
Gregory M. Zinkl | 11/04/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I happened across this CD in a mall in Wheeling, WV on a cross-country trip. My wife really wanted to hear the Messiah (it was Christmas time).What I heard was nothing short of astonishing. I expected the usual lackluster performance that I usually find on bargain labels. This CD, however, proved to be a jewel.I'm one of those persons who prefers Baroque music to be performed with precise, staccato attacks. Mushy attacks, particularly by the chorus, turn me off. If you're like me, you'll love this performance. Every track is taken at faster tempo than normally heard (even from Christopher Hogwood) and the attacks are crisp and clean (unlike the Hogwood's interpretation).If you're an aficianado of Messiah, you'll love "O thou that tellest", "For unto us a child is born," and the best Hallelujah Chorus I've ever heard. "Worthy is the lamb" and the Finale are tearjerkers.Bottom line is this is a must have CD for any Handel fan!"
Strong, dramatic approach+period instruments: Unique
Dan Fee | Berkeley, CA USA | 12/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the United States, Handel's Messiah has become ubiquitous holiday season music; whereas, it used to be split between Christmas and Easter, back in the days when people knew enough of their religion to bother with the Protestant and Catholic church calendars. Of course, Mr. Handel has nobody but himself to blame for this seasonal ritualization of his most famous oratorio, since he initiated the custom of giving it at Christmas time as a charity fund-raiser for the local children's hospital in London. In those days, the high infant mortality rates, combined with the maternal mortality rates, meant there were plenty of orphaned or abandoned children to be found in that teeming city. Still, apart from its Dickensian warmth as a sort of industrial-era morality tale, and its laudatory charity purposes, Handel's oratorio brings us a folio of quite extraordinary music. Since we have become so accustomed to Messiah's top-forty status, and since you may hear the main choruses being played on elevator music tapes, it is worth the deliberate effort to remember: before Handel came along to demonstrate what powerful choral writing could still do in music of public occasion, the glories of the great medieval polyphonists were largely unknown to the majority of musical people. In Messiah, Handel demonstrates the perennially apt powers of the human voice, in solo recitatives and arias of dramatic and reflective genius, along with choral writing that amazed his contemporaries, as well as almost everybody else who has ever heard it. Beethoven, lying on his death bed, pointed to an open manuscript of the Messiah lying on his bedside table, saying, "There lies the truth."The value of this oddly affecting recording of Messiah is something greater than the sum of its several parts. Like other third generation period instrumentalists such as Il Giardino Armonico, the Ama Deus ensemble does NOT take a timid-albeit- limpid approach to baroque styles. Rather, they play fiercely, all out. Multiple, varying shades of intonation remain enough on the tuning mark to maintain the overall sense of chord and harmony, while, true to gut strings and the stresses of playing through, alive, you get flavorful moments which serve to bring out the taste of the music, rather like peppercorns embedded in the larger recipe. Their varied phrasing is characteristically snappy, rhythmic, and crisp. The group and their leader, Mr. Valentin Radu, favor fast tempos, though varied according to dramatic and musical aims. If you are used to polish, polish, polish, this performance will only make you batty with its lacks.Throughout, the soloists, ensemble, and (I believe) choir improvise ornaments, and toss variations in phrasing back and forth among themselves. Phrasing is emphatic, on a few occasions. I won't detail these since I presume they are spur-of-the-moment surprises which need to catch you up short to make the point. The chorus may seem small-scale, at first hearing. This allows some pages a stimulating intimacy of communication .... like a Renaissance motet, instead of the cathedral-filling and heaven-storming grandiosities of Berlioz or Verdi (say). Nevertheless, when called for in other places(the Hallelujah chorus), the choir can manage sufficient weight and sound to make the requisite glory of God appear, vividly.Although the soloists are solid, they have plain voices. Each soloist appears to have sung enough that they are quite alert to the meanings of the words, and capable of good vocal technique and effective vocal communication. This solid level of vocal talent, while not superstar in status, accords well with the soloists Handel appears to have had on hand for the first performances in Dublin, who reportedly were a mixed lot. Though this music is so fine that nobody seeks less than the best voices available for their own concerts. This ordinariness of voice somehow makes the nobility and effect of the music all that much more forceful, somehow. As somebody else has noted in other reviews, the ladies stand out a bit more than the men, vocally, but not by much.Thus, impurities and all, this performance remains quite recommendable. It gets five stars, not because it is the fastest luxury sedan in the test drive lots, but because it somehow achieves an enthusiasm, purity of heart, and fiery declamation that meet the music of Handel at its own apogee of genius. Other performances you can get will settle you back into leather-cushioned seats with automatic everything, powerfully whirring you at various speeds past the scenery, maintaining your complete comfort until the end appears in sight. However, if the journey is the destination, this budget-priced performance may convince you that the trip was worth taking, in the first place."