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Handel - Messiah
George Frideric Handel, René Jacobs, Cambridge Choir of Clare College
Handel - Messiah
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (23) - Disc #2

"Messiah" was presented often during Handel's lifetime, and the composer made changes to suit the occasions and singers available. In 1750, it was presented with the castrato Guadagni in place of a female alto soloist, and...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: George Frideric Handel, René Jacobs, Cambridge Choir of Clare College, Freiburger Barockorchester, Kerstin Avemo, Patricia Bardon, Lawrence Zazzo, Kobie van Rensburg, Neil Davies
Title: Handel - Messiah
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 10/10/2006
Album Type: Import
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Styles: Holiday & Wedding, Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750)
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 794881817726

Synopsis

Amazon.com
"Messiah" was presented often during Handel's lifetime, and the composer made changes to suit the occasions and singers available. In 1750, it was presented with the castrato Guadagni in place of a female alto soloist, and given Guadagni's virtuosity (he was Gluck's first Orfeo), Handel embellished the vocal line--the effect is stunning. René Jacobs leads a superb reading of this version of the score--a very secular reading--with swift tempi, lightness of attack, interesting swelling, and diminishing of choral notes to great effect and an overall excellent cast. Countertenor Lawrence Zazzo takes the Guadagni part and fills it with grand style; Kerstin Avemo is the fine soprano soloist and bass Neal Davies sings up a storm. The men and women of the Choir of Clare College are in top form and the 28 players of the Feiburger Barockorchester play with accuracy, verve, and handsome tone. Yes, there are dozens of recordings of this work available, but this one is worthy to stand beside the best. --Robert Levine
 

CD Reviews

Wonderful
A Music Lover | Queensland, Australia | 11/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The harpsichord is used in this recording albeit discretely (with reference to the previous review - a clavecin is in fact a harpsichord) and Jacobs makes very imaginative use of the organ. The use by Jacobs of the lute as a continuo instrument is also incredibly effective. The soloists are uniformly excellent and the choir is spectacular. Whilst not as devotional as the recent Harnoncourt recording (my all time favourite), the combination of English choral excellence, German orchestral brilliance and Flemish flair in the conducting make for a winning recipe. Don't miss it."
More than 5 stars
The Cello Chick | New York, NY United States | 12/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There is an alchemy in this recording that if extremely rare to find outside of a concert hall. Even though the tempi are usual and it is more "baroquey" than my tastes run, this is one of the most magical recording I have come across. I wish I could give it more than five stars."
Far From My First Choice
Virginia Opera Fan | Falls Church, VA USA | 10/28/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I own this recording in the hybrid SACD version and have commented on it under that version. Since most prospective purchasers will be looking for the "redbook" CD version, I wanted to add my two cents worth here.

Having lived with and listened to this recording for sometime, I find it more of a disappointment than I did initially. Orchestral and choral forces are very good indeed, and the soloists are an OK lot. Soloists in particular are outclassed in other period performances (Cleobury being one example) but that is a personal take.

Two things about this performance raise my hackles: 1) Jacobs mannered conducting that employs lightened staccato effects in some choral climaxes. Listen to "For unto us" for example. The effect is irritatingly prissy. 2)The use of harp and lute in the continuo. While adding color to the proceedings, I prefer the less distracting harpsichord and organ support of other historically informed performances. In the present case the result is fussy and mannered.

There is also an egregious example of why ornamentation and flourishes are better in moderation in the context of repeated listening. Just before the invigorating rush of the final choral trilogy that ends Part III, Jacobs includes an organ interlude that "noodles" on the minor key of the final aria that immediately precedes it. It might work in live performance where the inspiration of the moment seizes both the performer and the audience. Laid down for posterity it prompts the question "why"? In the final "Amen" the jangling of the lute in the instrumental interlude sounds more like Vivaldi's Venice than Georgian England.

I suspect the SACD version shows off the recording quality to it's best effect. Even so, it lacks the transparency of Harmonia Mundi's best efforts.

Seasoned collectors may be interested in this version as different take on this warhorse. Buyers with less experience in the period performance area would do better with the work of Cleobury (Argo), Gardiner (Philips), Hogwood (Decca/L'Oiseau Lyre), and Pinnock (DG Archiv)."