For a long time I was hesitant to buy this recording of the Messiah as I have never heard it done by an original instrument Italian orchestra and chorus before. I was pleasantly surprised by this recording. I listened to it in its full 5.1 channel 24-bit/96kHz DVD-Audio surround sound version on my Denon universal player. First I'll talk about the performance and then the recording quality
The diction of the Coro della Radio Svizzera is excellent and their singing absolutely superb with some interesting interpretations by the director especially in the Alleluia chorus. Lynne Dawson's soprano is clear, light and bright with beautiful shaping and inflections. Guillemette Laurens is a good Mezzo-soprano but noticeably the weakest of the four soloists but still good but with her French accent coming through. Charles Daniels gives us some interesting surprises in his ornamentations and is generally excellent. The bass, Antonio Abete, is very good, only diminished a little by his Italian accent coming through.
The recording that the ARTS sound engineer, Matteo Costa, captured is about the best I've heard so far in high resolution surround sound. The sound stage is clearly 3 dimensional with the orchestra spread in front of you (unfortunaly Diego Fasolis as chosen to have the first and second violins on the left and left of center respectively instead of far left and far right respectively as is the custom in Baroque orchestras of the day), the chorus is slightly behind the orchestra but with a wider spread slightly left of the left speaker and slightly right of the right speaker, which makes you feel surrounded almost 180 degrees around you, excellent job!! The soloists are in front of the orchestra but not too loud and they are toward the center with most of their volume coming from the center speaker. I love when the center speaker is utilized in this fashion. The engineers did an excellent job balancing the soloists, orchestra and chorus so none over power the other. Also, the engineers did an excellent job at placing the microphones so you get enough detail without it being muddied by the reverberant acoustics of the church, which was the Chiesa di San Nicolao, Lugano (Switzerland). The church reverberation is captured beautifully as well with about a 3 second delay time, perfect for a large church without being too long. You definitely get the feeling you are in a large church. Oh, one more note, the timpani is captured really well for a change.
Overall I'm very glad I purchased this DVD-Audio disc. It was a delight.