'THIS IS NOT SACRED' JENNENS SAID, TO WHICH HANDEL AGREED;
I SIMPLY WANT TO CHARM MY PUBLIC AND HELP THOSE THAT ARE IN NEED!
'Handel's most popular and joyous oratorio, a work of unfailing melodic invention and dramatic expressiveness, has become a British national institution, regularly performed by all manner of choirs and orchestras. This new recording (January,2006) provides the ONLY re-construction of Handel's unique London performances in 1751,when he used BOY TREBLE VOICES not only for the choruses but for the arias as well. It is both a celebration of the British chapel choir tradition and a window onto a particular time and place in the history of HANDEL'S own PERFORMANCES of his masterpiece.'
It seems like I, personally, have waited all my life to hear the Messiah performed in this manner. I only hope that Handel somehow can also hear this absolutely magnificent rendition of this oratorio. Because of the use of the treble voices in the soprano and the male alto voices one can FINALLY hear the inner parts of the choral numbers. Thus,the balance of the voice parts is maintained. When I first heard the chorus enter in Part 1 with "And the glory of the Lord" it was like heaven opened up, and God appeared!!! Just fabulous sound!!!!!The entrances are clean and the diction thruout is quite easy to understand.
Higginbottom's tempi are upbeat and bouncy; "For Unto Us A Child Is Born" really rocked!!!!I loved it! One has to remember that strictly speaking Handel did not write this to be a sacred composition and it actually was performed only once in a consecrated building. Rather his purpose was to delight and charm his listeners. As a writer in the Dublin Journal wrote after the first performance: "Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded to the admiring crowded audience....."
I found it very refreshing to hear the boy sopranos take over some of the solos: "He Shall Feed His Flock Like A Shepherd" etc. All 3 young boys were excellent; I especially liked the voice of Otta Jones; it was clear and bell-like. It was interesting to hear the "Rejoice Greatly..." sung by a Tenor and what a great tenor he is!!!!Toby Spence has a wonderfully resonant voice as does the bass soloist,Eamonn Dougin,who delivers his songs with energy and drama. As with all the British singers, the diction is perfection.
I was mildly disappointed in Iestyn Davie's interpretation of some of his solos,especially "He was despised...." It seemed to me that he sang it in kind of a 'pop' style, and I kept hearing internally the voice of Michael Chance, and the way he sang the Messiah solos in Marriners' 250th anniversary disc. Of course, this is a personal bias on my part, and therefore can be refuted by almost anyone. However, Davies sings with much feeling and has a lovely voice,so it does not in any way detract from the excellence of the recording. There are certainly numerous interpretations of the Messiah ( I have a half a dozen), but each of us determines for outselves what we prefer, and there's nothing wrong with liking all of them!!!!This is just another perspective!!After all, Handel, himself added and subtracted and altered, but the essentials remained.