Handel, Musica Fiorita, Daniela Dolci - Messiah

Published Wednesday 21st December 2016
Handel, Musica Fiorita, Daniela Dolci - Messiah
Handel, Musica Fiorita, Daniela Dolci  - Messiah

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Pan Classics PC10351

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

There are, of course, dozens of recordings of Handel's classic and new productions appear at regular intervals. Yet this is a very special version, carefully crafted, Halle Händel Edition in hand, from a Basel-based selection of fine vocal soloists and instrumentalists who have all graduated from the world-famous Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland. Under the direction of Daniela Dolci at the harpsichord and organ, the soprano Miriam Feuersinger, counter-tenor Flavio Ferri-Benedetti, tenor Dino Lüthy and baritone Raitis Grigalis join the ensemble Musica Fiorita for an excellent studio recording made in October 2015. The unique selling point is an emphasis on the sound aesthetics through careful attention to detail. Numbers are small so alongside the soloists, two voices per part were used for the choir, and the instrumental ensemble is also small and uses period instruments such as natural trumpets with no valves. Does the end result sound close to what Handel intended? Without a time machine we can never know for certain but it must come close. Does it matter? For some, yes, a great deal while others prefer the bells and whistles when several choirs combine to "do" the Messiah at a festival. I prefer my Messiah to be light on its feet and of all Handel's compositions this is where less gives so much more. On this recording we can hear the detail, follow the words and enjoy the music as entertainment even while we remember that it is a serious subject. I confess that sometimes when reviewing a piece which I know well I cherry-pick before writing the review. In other words I make sure I hear each soloist once and then go to the well-known parts, such as the Hallelujah Chorus. However from the opening Symphony and "Comfort Ye My People" I was engrossed and not once did my finger touch the skip button. This is another addition to the list of outstanding recordings of Handel's 'Messiah'. I would not dare to say it is the best ever but it is certainly the best I have heard in 2016.

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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