Which Handel's Messiah Recording?

Discussion in 'Music' started by Kim G, Dec 5, 2008.

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  1. Kim G

    Kim G Puritan Board Junior

    I've always wanted to own a recording of Handel's Messiah, and I happen to have a little birthday money to splurge with. But there are so many recordings to choose from. Do any of you recommend a specific recording of the Messiah?
  2. dannyhyde

    dannyhyde Puritan Board Sophomore

  3. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    That's a good one.
  4. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    No question.
    Sir Andrew Davis, Toronto Symphony. Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
    Label: Emi Classics Catalog #: 49027 Spars Code: DDD
    Kathleen Battle, Florence Quivar, John Aler and Samuel Ramey

    This is not true "period" style but an expansion in places of Handel's orchestration to the full sized orchestra without violating Handel's style. Sensitively done, it is arguably what Handel might have done if he had had a modern orchestra and choir at his disposal. His original performance was limited to small forces and he ever afterwards enlarged them where possible. Offensive to musical purists, maybe, but musically stunning also.

    Kathleen Battle's voice has often been described as angelic and the word fits here. Sam Ramey's bass is phenomenal. Then TSO Principal Trumpet Larry Weeks performed what must be one of the finest trumpet solos of "The trumpet shall sound," and the TMC sounds "heavenly" most notably in the big choruses such as "Worthy is the Lamb". Every time I hear it I am overwhelmed by the greatness of our God and Saviour.
  5. Kim G

    Kim G Puritan Board Junior

    So basically I have to decide if I want to be a "purist" or not? :lol: Things are always more complicated than I'd like them to be.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I will listen to these and am still open to other suggestions.
  6. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    well, if you have money for two, the suggested one would be an excellent example of a "large" version, while you could go for the Pinnock or McCreesh versions for period authenticity. They each have their selling points - but for starters you probably want to go with the Davis version.
  7. dannyhyde

    dannyhyde Puritan Board Sophomore

    Be a purist. Let the power of the words move you. I go every year to Handel and will only go a an authentic performance. The bigger versions look and may sound impressive, but . . . be a purist!
  8. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    McCreesh or Pinnock do a great job


    Yes absolutely, I agree with Daniel Hyde and Todd Pedlar,

    period / authentic / original instruments (baroque or copies from the baroque)

    are so more faithful to Haendel’s musical intentions.

    Pinnock (with Anne Soffie von Otter) and McCreesh (also great

    on Saul, Solomon or Theodora Oratorios) are very good versions.

    By the way have you heard Bach’s Mathew Passion by McCreesh ?

    With 1 singer for voice – 4 singers only, no choir :rant:

    a bit like Joshua Rifkin on some Bach’s Cantatas on L'Oyseau Lyre - Decca

    but this is a «piéce de resistance» composed for 2 choirs.

    I wonder how that is acceptable when made by

    an ancient music expert like McCreesh ?

    A Purist, so to speak :wink:

    My favourite versions are Gustav Leonhardt and Phillipe Herreweghe

    (the 2nd )

    But I also enjoy listening to John Eliot Gardiner and Sigiswald Kuijken

    versions once in a while.

    How about your favourite versions on Bach?

    Bach’s Mathew Passion is definitely my 1 cd (actually 3 ) lonely island choice.

    Well hope to hear from you.

    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008
  9. Mindaboo

    Mindaboo Puritan Board Graduate

    I pick up Classical Music CD's from our library all of the time. Could you go there and sample a few at home and then make a choice? If I really wanted to buy one that is what I would do.
  10. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I have the same version and it was the one recommended to me by an 'expert'.
  11. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    O come on, guys! Poo-poohing modern versions is not fair. And music is not the same as theology. Not everything has to be historically contextualized. And I speak as one who loves period performances. For one thing, those composers always jumped at the chance to write for new instruments. If they were alive today, they would not have written the way they did, or for the instruments they did. Take Bach, for instance. There is no doubt in mind he would be absolutely thrilled with piano performances of his work, since that was precisely the instrument he was looking for, but didn't have, since the pianofortes in his day simply didn't measure up to the harpsichord. Furthermore, Bach loved to arrange the same music for different instruments. If the piano had been available as the reliable instrument it is today, he would undoubtedly have written for it. I am not poo-poohing anyone who likes to go to period performances. They are glorious. But to look down on modern performances is to forget what the composers themselves saw about musical instruments. My favorite Messiah is the Toronto symphony recording mentioned earlier, especially since Ramey does "But Who May Abide," which simply is NOT an alto aria. It belongs in the bass.
  12. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    great music always sounds great

    Hi Lane Keister

    Well, you’re right, I didn’t mean to be depreciative on modern versions.

    I actually hear Bach and Scarlatti much more on piano, as I find solo cembalo a bit metallic after a while, myself.

    I still believe that for ancient and baroque music the historical approach

    is closer to the Composer’s heart, but of course both approaches – historic or modern - are valid and good.

    What counts is to enjoy the music, the thread on Bach I just posted tells precisely this.

    And no doubt Bach didn’t like his experience on a pianoforte because at the time it was still a rudimentary weak instrument,

    I'm sure Bach would love to have his hands on a grand Steinway,

    And what he would do? Well, Glenn Gould gives a pretty good idea :)
  13. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    While I love Pinnock and McCreesh (and McCreesh's recording of Solomon is undoubtedly the one to have; but the presence of Susan Gritton usually makes that true in any case), in this case I have to say that Hogwood's version with Emma Kirkby is hands down the finest recording of Messiah ever made.

    Amazon.com: Handel - Messiah / Nelson, Kirkby, Watkinson, Elliott, Thomas, AAM, Hogwood: George Frideric Handel, Christopher Hogwood, Academy of Ancient Music, Emma Kirkby, Carolyn Watkinson, Judith Nelson, Paul Elliott, David Thomas, Oxford Choir of

    If you are only going to have one, this is the one to have.

    Kathleen Battle is a glorious singer, and many of her performances will probably never be equalled; but Kirkby's voice is more angelic, and in the context of Messiah her voice is the perfect fit.

    Why start off with anything less than the best?
  14. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you so much Ruben

    If you rate that one above the others, and this is already a very high league

    so I definitely must hear it sometime.

    And of course I am also a fan of Emma Kirkby myself,

    so it may interest you to know that

    she is delightful in Handel’s Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate

    also with the Academy of Ancient Music but with Simon Preston

    invited to take the wheel, instead of the regular boss Christopher Hogwood.

    Kirkby is also at her best on Haendel’s Joshua

    by King’s Consort with Robert King conducting on Hypérion.

    PS - by the way it’s better to mention Trevor when being positive on the English Concert,

    as it may look that we appreciate Clark Pinnock :D
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008
  15. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Good catch, César! For the record, I do not appreciate Clark Pinnock. Emma Kirkby is always delightful, although I think she was not at her best when recording with Joan Sutherland, and in the collection of Vivaldi arias -her voice had lost too much agility by then. But who that has heard it could ever forget her Tornami a vagheggiar?

    Now if we have carried over into discussing conductors, I think it only fair to mention Philip Pickett and Sir William Christie.
  16. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior


    Absolutely on Christie, I am very fond of Christie’s Les Arts Florissants

    on French Baroque, I have a lot of his Charpentier,

    also a bit of Rameau and Lully - on Harmonia Mundi

    Oh yes he also directs a great Alcina of Haendel with Renée Fleming for Erato.

    As for Pickett I don’t know his music, only the name, he also recorded on

    L’oyseau Lyre – London Consort or something like that

    and he had a series on Carmina Burana

    not the Carl Orff XX century – but the original profane scores.

    What do you suggest from Pickett?

    Does he direct only ancient music or baroque too?
  17. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Philip Pickett. His recording of Sir Henry Bishop were my introduction to Susan Gritton, and for my wife and I it was love at first note.
  18. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    I've never heard of Henry Bishop.

    Thank you.

    I'm sure you are also fond of Gritton on Henry Purcell's songs.

    If you would like to contribute to suggestions on

    my post / thread on Bach - just around the corner

    - actually I started it a bit off track on this one first -

    you are very welcome, please do.
  19. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    You know, perhaps oddly, Purcell has never really held much appeal for me. But for Susan Gritton's sake I will look out for the songs.

    Sir Henry Bishop was called the English Mozart. Not altogether accurate, but he is very charming. If you want to obtain a real treat get this CD.

    Amazon.com: Shakespeare At Covent Garden / Pickett, Musicians Of The Globe: Henry Rowley Bishop, Musicians of the Globe, Andrew King, Andrew Murgatroyd, Christopher Robson, Helen Groves, Jeanette Ager, Joanne Lunn, Joseph Cornwell, Julia Gooding, Mar
  20. Theogenes

    Theogenes Puritan Board Junior

    I listen to the London Philharmonic Orchestra version and I've done so almost every Saturday morning while I eat my breakfast for the past 14 years. I love Handel's Messiah. I think its a foretaste of Heaven's worship! :)
  21. Calvinist Cowboy

    Calvinist Cowboy Puritan Board Junior


    Amen, brother! Amen one thousand times over! :amen:

    This version is nothing less than the best recording currently available of Handel's Messiah. :sing:

    I was wondering when someone was finally going to suggest this recording.
  22. Kim G

    Kim G Puritan Board Junior

    Well, I did it. I bought this version. Thanks to everyone who made recommendations.

    I found a few of the other recommendations at my local library yesterday, but my husband didn't enjoy them very much because of the high ladies' voices that sometimes "screech." (He doesn't enjoy an operatic style as much as I do.) This performance of the Messiah has a much clearer, straighter tone that I think he will really appreciate. I know I am enjoying it.

    Perhaps I will get a larger, fuller performance recording in a few years, just for something different.
  23. Jon Lake

    Jon Lake Puritan Board Sophomore

    If I could only have ONE, without a moment of hesitation I would say that of the Boston Baroque, with the amazing Martin Pearlman directing!:sing::sing::sing: They perform with period instruments!!! One word:Sublime!:):2cents::sing:
  24. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    You won't regret it. It was a good decision. Heidi says that once you've listened to this one you'll be spoiled for other recordings. Maybe you should just get two copies!
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