Handel: Messiah

This page lists all recordings of Messiah, by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) on CD, SACD, DVD, Blu-ray & download (MP3 & FLAC). Generally, more recent releases are listed first, but with priority given to those that are in stock.

Messiah, based on a biblical libretto by Charles Jennens, was written in the summer of 1741 and first performed in Dublin on 13th April 1742. It was originally intended to be performed during lent but it has become more common since Handel's death for Messiah to be performed in Advent.

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


“Christie negotiates both wide-eyed wonderment of the Nativity and the pathos of Part II with aplomb in a performance underpinned by luxury casting and instrumental finesse.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas Issue 2013

Harmonia Mundi - HMGold - HMG501498/99

(CD - 2 discs)

$15.25

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Händel: Der Messias

Händel: Der Messias

(German version by Johann Gottfried Herder)


Handel:

Messiah


Sharon Rostorf-Zamir (soprano), Maria Riccarda Wesseling (alto), Kobie van Rensburg (tenor), Raimund Notle (bass)

Lautten Compagney, Dresdner Kammerchor, Wolfgang Katschner

Deutsche HM - 88725443522

(CD - 2 discs)

$22.25

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


Decca - Double Decca - 4783946

(CD - 2 discs)

$15.50

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah

in German


Musical brightness and splendour: Handel's oratorios were effective dramatic works for the stage, with one exception: The Messiah. But precisely the reflective character and solemn style of the score helped the work achieve resounding success. For the first time, oratorios were allowed to be performed in church, and The Messiah soon had a firm place in choral societies' standard repertoire.

EMI Electrola Collection - 0882892

(CD - 2 discs)

$16.00

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


Deutsche HM - 88697606662

(CD - 2 discs)

$30.50

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


“I would happily sit in King’s College Chapel listening to this choir sing for the rest of my days.” (Richard Morrison, The Times)

“Stephen Cleobury’s interpretation ticked all the boxes, with choir and orchestra impeccably balanced and soloists glowing.” (The Independent)

Following the rush-release on CD of the live recording of Handel’s Messiah earlier this year, EMI Classics is now proud to announce the release of the DVD of this extraordinary performance in the magnificent setting of the Chapel of King’s College. The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and the Academy of Ancient Music are conducted by Stephen Cleobury with soloists Ailish Tynan, Alice Coote, Allan Clayton and Matthew Rose.

The DVD of the concert on Palm Sunday 2009 was filmed and produced by Opus Arte.

This Messiah performance was at the heart of the fifth annual Easter at King’s festival and commemorated both the 250th anniversary of the death of George Frideric Handel and the 800th anniversary of the University of Cambridge. The concert was carried via satellite – a first for a live choral concert - and was screened in over 85 cinemas across Europe and North America. Further cinema broadcasts are planned in the US and Canada in November/ December 2009 (maybe in Europe as well), possibly in a 3D version. Further details of these broadcasts will be announced shortly.

The DVD and previously-released CD join the chart-topping CD, England, My England, released in July 2009 and a new live recording of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, to be released in November 2009 as ideal Christmas gifts from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and EMI Classics.

George Frideric Handel’s crowning masterpiece, his oratorio Messiah, was a hit at its premiere in April 1742 and remains among the most popular works in Western choral literature. A native of Germany, the composer lived in England from 1712, where he was considered one of the leading musical figures of his day. In 1741, the year in which he wrote Messiah, however, Handel found himself on the verge of bankruptcy, depressed and broken following the failure of several of his operas. In London it was even being said that his career as a composer was over.

Not so in Ireland, where the Lord Lieutenant and governors of three charitable organisations invited Handel to Dublin to conduct a performance of one of his works for charity. Having recently completed his oratorio Messiah, the composer decided to use the invitation as an opportunity to present this new work to the world. The premiere – at Neal’s Music Hall in Dublin in 1742 – was eagerly awaited by the Dublin public and the hall was sold out.

Handel based Messiah on a libretto by Charles Jennens that employs verses from the bible to present the life of Jesus. The work is in three sections: the Advent and Christmas; Christ’s passion; and the events told in the Revelation to St. John. While the composer intended the oratorio to be secular theatre, today Messiah is performed equally in churches and concert halls, by professionals and amateurs alike, usually during Lent (prior to Easter) or Advent (prior to Christmas).

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge is the world’s most famous choir and one of today’s most accomplished and renowned representatives of the great British choral tradition. The Choir dates back to the 1400s and consists of 16 choristers and 14 choral scholars. Its international reputation, established by the radio broadcast worldwide of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols each Christmas Eve, has been consolidated by regular international tours and by the critical and commercial success of its EMI Classics releases. The most recent releases by the Choir, under exclusive contract with EMI Classics, include England, My England, a patriotic collection of English choral favourites that has been at the top of the UK classical artist charts this summer, the stunning selection of Tudor anthems I Heard a Voice, Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem, Purcell’s Music for Queen Mary with the Academy of Ancient Music, John Rutter’s Gloria, Magnificat and Psalm 150 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Heavenly Voices, in which the Boys of King’s College Choir, in their first solo recording for the label, perform works by Franck, Mendelssohn, Fauré, John Ireland and Patrick Hadley.

The Academy of Ancient Music (AAM), founded in 1973 by Christopher Hogwood, is one of the world’s first and foremost period-instrument orchestras. It takes its name from a London concert society established in 1726 for the purpose of studying and performing ‘old’ music, which was initially defined as music composed at least a century earlier, but soon came to include more ‘contemporary’ composers. The present-day Academy of Ancient Music has performed across six continents and made over 250 recordings, including many pioneering discs under Christopher Hogwood. In addition to making numerous recordings of baroque repertoire, especially Handel, the AAM was the first orchestra to record all of Mozart’s symphonies on period instruments and has since recorded the complete piano concertos and symphonies of Beethoven. It is also recording the Mozart piano concertos with fortepianist Robert Levin and the complete Haydn symphonies. At the start of the 2006-07 season, Christopher Hogwood assumed the title of Emeritus Director and Richard Egarr became Music Director.

“Stephen Cleobury's interpretation … served Handel's piece well….the understanding between the orchestra and the Choir of King's College was remarkable. … the atmosphere in the Chapel, as well as in the cinema, was one of evocative majesty. … Former Young Artist of the Royal Opera Ailish Tynan made Handel's piece shine … One of the finest interpreters of the Baroque repertoire, Coote pushed her expressive power to the extreme. Her engagement with the text was almost surreal … Mimetic camera movements accompanied the singing … providing the audience in cinemas with another level of engagement.” (www.musicalcriticism.com)

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

EMI - 2681569

(DVD Video - 2 discs)

$20.25

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


Allan Clayton (tenor), Andrew Foster-Williams (bass), Iestyn Davies (countertenor) & Julia Doyle (soprano)

Polyphony & Britten Sinfonia, Stephen Layton

2CDs for the price of 1

‘No-one, but no-one performs Messiah better every year than the choir Polyphony under the conductor Stephen Layton’ (Evening Standard)

Polyphony and Stephen Layton’s live Messiah at St John’s Smith Square has become one of the highlights of the musical season. The joyful sincerity and urgent brilliance of the performers has brought the familiar story to life again and again. Now this wonderful experience is available on disc, recorded in 2008 for a new release that will surely prove a strong competitor in a necessarily crowded market. Polyphony is joined by the Britten Sinfonia and a quartet of magnificent young soloists – all variously acclaimed as the premier Handel singers of the new generation.

“…underpinned by the incisive modern instruments of Britten Sinfonia, the new release has both a fine sense of style and is full of refreshing insights… Tempos - after a slightly low-key start - are well judged, and the choir, the odd momentary hint of strain aside, sings with an effortless control and well-modulated fluency that takes wing when gutsiness is added to the mix.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2009

“…there is plenty of music-making here that has the lightness, textures and vocabulary of period style, but there is also the spiritual grandeur (and interventionist treatment of the score) of the great Northern choral society tradition. Julia Doyle is a charismatic Angel/narrator... and her embellishment recapitulation of the line "I know that my Redeemer liveth" is spine-tingling. Andrew Foster-Williams's singing is marvellous... Iestyn Davies's... ornamentation in "But who may abide" is masterful for its stylish vocabulary and expressive wisdom... Layton's affection for the oratorio is frequently discernible, not least in the technical and communicative qualities of Polyphony's exceptional singing of the choruses.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2009

“The 16 strings of Britten Sinfonia make the most of Handel’s wonderfully varied accompaniments (their Why do the nations is hair-raising), the 31-strong Polyphony are excellent... and Layton’s direction is vivid and masterly.” Sunday Times, 20th December 2009 ****

Hyperion - CDA67800

(CD - 2 discs)

$16.00

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


Regis - RRC2081

(CD - 2 discs)

$11.50

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


For a limited period all copies of the 2SACD set will include a bonus DVD featuring highlights from the performances and an interview with Sir Colin Davis. English only (no subtitles). A co-production by the BBC and LSO.

“Sir Colin Davis's way with Messiah, as recorded live at the Barbican last December, is old-fashioned by present-day standards. His soloists are all good. The Tenebrae Choir, with its thirty-odd voices, proves near ideal for a performance on this sort of scale, and their sheer neatness is a delight. One or two tempos may be on the slow side, but generally Davis motivates Handel's music with dynamism.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2007 ****

“[the soloists] make an excellent team, with clean, clear voices, well focused. Mark Padmore is outstanding as the tenor soloist, and Sara Mingaro is a fine, firm mezzo, not at all fruity, singing He was despised movingly at a steady tempo. She contrasts well with the soprano, Susan Gritton, in He shall feed his flock” Penguin Guide, 2010 ***

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

LSO Live - LSO0607

(SACD - 2 discs)

$18.75

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah

(Dublin version, 1742)


Susan Hamilton (soprano), Annie Gill (mezzo), Clare Wilkinson (alto), Nicholas Mulroy (tenor), Matthew Brook (bass), Edward Caswell (bass)

Dunedin Consort, John Butt

This is the first recording to seriously explore the version and performing forces that Handel used for his legendary Dublin première.The research was carried out by director and lecturer John Butt and the performance recreated by the acclaimed Scottish choral group the Dunedin Consort, with soloists taken from within the choir. The Dublin version of The Messiah is unique in several important ways and the resultant Linn recording signifies an exciting and historically considered representation as enjoyed by the Dublin audience of 1742.The challenge in this recording was to try and recapture something of the freshness of the first public performances, imagining what it was like to hear the work for the very first time, when many moments must have been quite unexpected.

“... the freshest, most natural, revelatory and transparently joyful Messiah I have heard for a very long time” Gramophone Magazine, December 2006

“The Dunedin Consort's recording of Handel's Messiah strips the work back to how it was performed at its first outing in Dublin. Even less ornate than other 'authentic' performances, it is innately spiritual, and deeply satisfying.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2007

“For an infinitely rewarding fresh look at Handel's most familiar music, look no further than the Dunedin Consort's performance of Handel's first version, premiered at Dublin in 1742. Bizarrely under-represented in concert and on disc, the Dublin score contains some fascinating music that Handel never reused, such as the substantial chorus 'Break forth into joy'. The exuberant direction by harpsichordist John Butt is meticulously stylish and utterly devoid of crassly pretentious egotism. The playing is unerringly spontaneous and dramatically integrated with singers who illustrate profound appreciation of text.
Clare Wilkinson's 'He was despised' is most moving, Susan Hamilton effortlessly skips through a delicious 'Rejoice greatly', and bass Matthew Brook sings as if his life depends on it.
Butt bravely resolves to use the same forces Handel had at his disposal in Dublin, which means that the entire oratorio is sung by a dozen singers (with all soloists required to participate in the choruses, as Handel would have expected).
Where this approach might risk worthy dull solos churned out by stalwart choir members, the Dunedin Consort's exemplary singers produce virtuoso choruses that are theatrically charged, splendidly poised and exquisitely blended. Old warhorses 'For unto us a child is born' and 'Surely he hath borne our griefs' are delightfully inspiring. Butt and the Dunedin Consort marry astute scholarship to sincere artistic expression and the result is comfortably the freshest, most natural, revelatory and transparently joyful Messiah to have appeared for a very long time. (It's also available as a download at numerous different bit-rates.)”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Awards 2007

Best of Category - Baroque Vocal

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Linn - up to 20% off

Linn - CKD285

(SACD - 2 discs)

Normally: $16.00

Special: $14.40

(also available to download from $20.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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