"With ravishing bell-like tones, you can almost see a halo on top of Joan Sutheland's head. What passion, what a gorgeous sound she makes! Just sends chills up and down one's spine. The recording is wonderful, the choir brilliant, and the supporting cast is excellent. But Sutherland is the vocal miracle!"
Not a poor recording!
Laura Hedden | State College, PA United States | 10/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a cellist with 13 years of experience and a professional musicologist, I am disappointed at the mixed reviews this recording has received. I have heard many different recordings of this piece (and played it many times), and I must say that this one is one of the best I have heard. An especially good feature of this recording is the orchestral playing. The orchestra is very sensitive in their accompaniment of the soloists. Also, the ornamentation in the vocal parts (Every Valley, Rejoice Greatly) does not seem to me to be excessive, and falls well within the norm of what would be expected in a typical Baroque performance. Don't be discouraged from buying this one!"
Laura Hedden | 05/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just the singing of "How beautiful are the feet" by Dame Joan is worth the price of this cd. It is the most beautifully sung aria, or song I've ever heard. The voice sounds innocently sweet, clear as a bell and silvery. She adds perfect trills.
I've listen to this piece close to a hundred times and adore it. The rest of the arias by Sutherland are also spectacular. The recorded sounds is church like, and Christmas like. And the conducting and orchestra and chorus are wonderful."
An Interesting Aproach to The Messiah
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 12/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With so many recordings of Handel's MESSIAH available, it's hard to choose the perfect set. There are full price, sets, mid-price sets, and budget recordings, and many do justice to this great work. Many people have found that some of the lesser known names on smaller labels do more than an adequate job and bring the majestic music of this work to life in a way that some of the bigger names and orchestras do not do, and while this may be true, this set, with some of operas' favorite recording artists has some merits.
It should not be all that much of a surprise to anyone familiar with Bonynge that this set would be memorable. Bonynge has worked not only with the Ambroasian Singers, but each of the soloists as well. Soprano Joan Sutherland is Bonynge's wife and she without a doubt the strongest of the four soloists. She handles her role with ease (I know, bad pun but it's unintentional), using the skills she has as a Bel Canto specialist to maneuver Handel's trills and flourishes. Two soloists who truly get a vocal workout are Hugette Tourangeau who sings the contralto role and bass Tom Krause. Though listeners may love the vocal fireworks Handel includes in the score, it is rather difficult terrain for the lower voices, but Tourangeau and Krause do a spectacular job. Many listeners may also realize that other basses have simplified their parts whereas Krause accepts the vocal challenges and he does more than accept, he achieves success. Werner Krenn's light tenor is suited for his parts and he too does a wonderful job. The orchestra and chorus are both top notch and at times I juts put the discs in the CD player, put on the headphones, and listen to some of eth great choral masterpieces of this work and am amazed at the beautiful music this work contains performed beautifully on this set.
One thing that should be noted: This set may not be for everyone. Bonynge and the performers are from the world of opera, and while opera is choral music, it does not guarantee success in oratorios such as MESSIAH. Bonynge's expertise from the world of opera and the symphonic repertoire is evident from the small details he seems to emphasize in his interpretation, which makes the set different, but for some MESSIAH lovers, different is not a good thing. The same can be said for the soloists. While they do work together and there is not a competitive feeling to the set, they do at times sound as if they are on the operatic stage, particularly Sutherland and Tourangeau. For some, this is not in the spirit of a work like MESSIAH. For me, this is not something undesirable. I love the work of the performers involved and enjoy this set, but while it's not a radically different approach, it is a bit different from the standard recording of this work. "
Virginia Opera Fan | Falls Church, VA USA | 10/24/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Interesting, if for no other reason than to hear Handel performed as through he were writing in the era of Bellini and Donizetti. Sutherland was better in the earlier Boult version. The accents of the mezzo and tenor can be a little distracting. The soloists' ornamentation is interesting on a first hearing, but can be a little offputting with continued exposure. As an example, listen to Tourangeau's singing of "Thou art gone up on high". Almost every note is filigreed. It reminds me of Callas' caution to a participant in the Julliard master classes: you'd have more impact with expression than all that hullaballoo."