Handel: Messiah

Chandos: CHSA5176

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Handel: Messiah


Presto Disc of the Week

2nd December 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - January 2017



Catalogue No:




Release date:

28th Oct 2016




1 hour 53 minutes


SACD (download also available)


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Handel: Messiah

New Concert Edition by Sir Andrew Davis

Erin Wall (soprano), Elizabeth DeShong (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Staples (tenor), John Relyea (bass-baritone)

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis

SACD - 2 discs

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Experience the transcendent glory of Messiah in Sir Andrew Davis’s new, majestic, must-hear edition of Handel’s beloved classic.

Recorded live for SACD release in surround sound, this unique version makes use of all the colours available from the modern symphony orchestra to underline the mood and meaning of the individual movements. Without detracting from the innate power of the original, the conductor’s score calls for moments of drama, pathos, and even, sometimes, whimsicality. It is supported by substantial brass and woodwind forces, and several percussion instruments (including marimba!). As he explains in a very personal booklet note, this leading British conductor brings immense dedication to what is probably the most famous piece of British sacred music ever composed, this version being one which he has conducted live only a few times, including on this recording. He confesses: ‘Everything I have done instrumentally stems from the enormous respect, even awe, which I feel towards this supreme masterpiece’.

George Frideric Handel: Messiah, HWV 56, Pt. 1

Part I: Sinfonia: Grave - Allegro moderato

Part I: Accompanied Recitative: Comfort Ye, Comfort Ye my People (Tenor)

Part I: Aria: Ev'ry valley shall be exalted (Tenor)

Part I: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed (Chorus)

Part I: Accompanied Recitative: Thus saith the Lord (Bass)

Part I: Aria: But who may abide the day of His coming (Mezzo-soprano)

Part I: And He shall purify the sons of Levi (Chorus)

Part I: Recitative: Behold, a Virgin Shall Conceive (Mezzo-soprano)

Part I: Air: O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion (Mezzo-soprano, Chorus)

Part I: Accompanied Recitative: For behold, darkness shall cover the earth (Bass)

Part I: Aria: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light (Bass)

Part I: For unto us a child is born (Chorus)

Part I: Pastoral Symphony

Part I: Accompanied Recitative: There were Shepherds Abiding in the Field (Soprano)

Part I: Accompanied: And lo, the angel of the Lord (Soprano)

Part I: Recitative: And the Angel said unto them (Soprano)

Part I: Recitative: And suddenly there was the angel (Soprano)

Part I: Glory to God in the highest (Chorus)

Part I: Aria: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion (Soprano)

Part I: Recitative: Then shall the eyes of the blind be open'd (Mezzo-soprano)

Part I: Duet: He shall feed His flock (Mezzo-soprano, Soprano)

Part I: His yoke is easy. Not too fast and with lots of bounce! (Chorus)

Messiah, HWV 56, Pt. 2

Part II: Behold the Lamb of God (Chorus)

Part II: Aria: He was despised and rejected of men (Mezzo-soprano)

Part II: Surely, He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Chorus)

Part II: And with His stripes we are healed (Chorus)

Part II: All we like sheep have gone astray (Chorus)

Part II: Accompanied Recitative: All they that see Him laugh (Tenor)

Part II: He trusted in God that He would deliver Him (Chorus)

Part II: Accompanied Recitative: Thy rebuke hath broken His heart (Tenor)

Part II: Arioso: Behold, and see if there be any sorrow (Tenor)

Part II: Accompanied Recitative: He was cut off out of the land (Tenor)

Part II: Air: But Thou Didst not Leave his Soul in Hell (Tenor)

Part II: Lift up your heads (Chorus)

Part II: The Lord gave the word (Chorus)

Part II: Duet: How beautiful are the feet of Him that bringeth glad tidings of salvation (Soprano)

Part II: Aria: Why do the nations (Bass)

Part II: Let us break their bonds (Chorus)

Part II: Recitative: He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn (Tenor)

Part II: Aria: Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron (Tenor)

Part II: Hallelujah! (Chorus)

Messiah, HWV 56, Pt. 3

Part III: Aria: I know that my Redeemer liveth (Soprano)

Part III: Since by man came death (Chorus)

Part III: Recitative: Behold, I tell you a mystery (Bass)

Part III: Aria: The trumpet shall sound (Bass)

Part III: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain (Chorus)

The Times

2nd December 2016


“Davis has thrown every resource of the modern symphony orchestra at the task. The result is rather as if the Disney Corporation had bought the rights to the show...The Toronto Symphony Orchestra plays with terrific spirit, especially the brass, and there are four excellent soloists.”

MusicWeb International

13th December 2016

“A performance I will return to often and with great pleasure.”

Presto Classical

David Smith

2nd December 2016

“Davis’s new orchestration of Messiah is either, depending on your point of view, an act of unpardonable musical blasphemy or a gloriously tongue-in-cheek tribute to a well-loved masterpiece...the overall effect is just of a lush, Romantic orchestration rather than of forced aural gimmickry.”

Gramophone Magazine

January 2017

“This is obviously not a basic ‘Library ‘ Messiah but can be cautiously recommended as a curiosity for those enjoy arrangements and transcriptions.”

BBC Music Magazine

January 2017


“Astonishingly well controlled…the solo voices are rich and weighty…[the] flute provides a charming obbligato to ‘How beautiful are the feet’, while the tenor’s ‘Thy rebuke…’ is intensely moving…a remarkable choral achievement”

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