What a wonderful, exciting recording of Handel's venerable masterpiece.
I suppose by now I must have heard Messiah live a dozen or so times, and I must have heard at least two dozen recordings.
In the baroque tradition, it is so wide open to interpretation no two performances can ever sound the same. That's part of the excitement of the baroque fach.
This remarkable recording strives for authenticity without seeming to be covered by a layer of dust or, even worse, mold.
It succeeds magnificently. The performance is straight forward and unencumbered by centuries of troweled on nonsense. It is a performance Mr. Handel himself would have recognized. And yet, it is a performance that is perfectly modern as well. The soloists all know their music and are comfortable with it.
While it would be supremely unfair to single out any one of the outstanding soloists, I cannot help but call attention to the beautiful contribution here from the magnificent Arleen Auger. Tragically, she would be taken from us barely four years after this recording was made. She was, here, at the absolute pinnacle of her formidable artistic powers. It is a fitting tribute to the great contribution she made to the art form she so obviously loved.
Finally, not enough can be said of Trevor Pinnock. His intelligence allows Handel to be the driving force of this performance. Pinnock never gets in the way of the composer and, therefore, leaves his usual stamp of excellence on the performance.
This is, simply, a great recording.