George Frideric Handel, Academy Of Ancient Music, Choir Of New College - Messiah (1751 Version)

Published Saturday 13th January 2007
George Frideric Handel, Academy Of Ancient Music, Choir Of New College - Messiah (1751 Version)
George Frideric Handel, Academy Of Ancient Music, Choir Of New College - Messiah (1751 Version)

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 21888-
LABEL: Naxos 8570131
FORMAT: CD Album
ITEMS: 2

This product is currently not available from Cross Rhythms Direct


Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Handel was constantly revising his work to suit different occasions and the available talent, a process continued after his death, notably by Mozart who modernised the orchestration to suit his own time. The version on this excellent budget-priced 2CD release came from the London performances of 1751, where Handel used boy treble voices not only for the choruses but for the arias as well. Edward Higginbottom has tried to replicate this by using his own choir, that of New College, Oxford, supplemented by choir graduates in Lestyn Davies, countertenor (no castrato being available), Toby Spence, tenor, and Eamonn Douglas, bass. All three do us proud, as do the three trebles: Henry Jenkinson, Otta Jones and Rupert Brooks. The accompaniment comes from the Academy of Ancient Music and, to my ears, Higginbottom gets a superb performance from all his forces. Some versions of the 'Messiah' can become rather stodgy: think of the heavy walls and mighty buttresses of a great cathedral. This version reminds us of the stained glass windows with the light flooding in. For the first time in far too long I found myself listening to the words as well as the music which, surely, is the point of it all.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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