I remember listening to this recording as a child, from my father's collection in the 1960s. The LP set has been long lost, and I've spent 40 or so years looking for a satisfactory recording of the Messiah, to no avail. The only thing I remembered about this one was Shaw, and to my surprise I discovered it recently while searching on Amazon. This recording is a revelation and a beauty to behold. There is a purity and cleanliness, combined with fervor and urgency, that makes it a rare experience. The spare instrumentation is unforgiving, and intonation among the strings is sometimes wobbly, but this is a relief after the digitalized (fake) perfection of more modern recordings. The heaviness and miscasting of famous opera singers in the solo parts of other recordings of the Messiah have been unfortunate. In the Shaw recording, the orchestra and chorus are "right-sized" to the music and text. Most of all, the soloists live up to the music and the text. The contralto Florence Kopleff is especially moving, with minimal mannerisms and perfect diction; her performance here must be among the best in the classical repertoire, which makes it strange that she has left so few recordings. Listen to her "He was despised...." Soprano Judith Raskin's singing has an urgency and a wonder about it. Thomas Paul (bass) is equally moving in the substantial solos, as is Richard Lewis (tenor). With this recording of the Messiah, I feel like I've returned home.