A wonderful performance of an oratorio masterpiece
Handel's Messiah is very special to me, having sung the soprano solo and played the cello in the orchestra. Of the oratorios I have heard, and I have heard many(mostly by Handel), my favourites are Messiah, Haydn's The Creation and Mendelssohn's Elijah. And this is a truly wonderful performance, beautifully filmed and welcoming in the venue. Musically it is an absolute treat, with crisp playing from the strings, and in The Trumpet Shall Sound the trumpet has the most ringing and pure sound of any solo trumpet that I've heard in a while. Neville Marriner's tempos are well judged, not too fast or slow, and the chorus are outstanding whether in the joyous Hallelujahs in the Hallelujah Chorus, articulating runs in very difficult choruses such as And He Shall Purify or in the "grave" sections of Since the Man Came Death. The chorus generally are of a high standard, though Jerry Hadley is not at his best unfortunately. The tone is smooth and mostly beautiful but with moments of sharp intonation and not enough expression. I was most taken by countertenor Michael Chance, who had the best diction of the soloists and a voice of great purity. Sylvia McNair likewise, with a carefully enunciated Rejoice(the runs come so easy to her, I'm envious) and a beautifully phrased and poignant I Know That My Redeemer Liveth. Ann Sofie Von Otter brings a real sensitivity and warmth to He Was Despised, in my opinion the way she sings it makes the aria much more interesting than it actually is(my opinion that is), and while his runs are not as carefully enunciated as they could've been at times, the ever versatile Robert Lloyd sings with a firm and rich tone. Overall, wonderful. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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