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


Lucy Crowe (soprano), Tim Mead (counter-tenor), Andrew Staples (tenor), Christopher Purves (baritone)

Le Concert d’Astrée Orchestre et Chœur, Emmanuelle Haïm

Emmanuelle Haïm has established herself as one of the world’s leading performers, conductors and interpreters of Baroque repertoire, not only with Le Concert d’Astrée, the ensemble she founded in 2000, but with several of the world’s greatest orchestras. Known for her fresh and expressive approach to Baroque music, she has appeared as a guest conductor with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Berliner Philharmoniker. With her own ensemble she has garnered critical acclaim and several international awards, including Victoires de la Musique Classique, ECHOs, Gramophone Awards, and Grammy nominations.

For this English-language recording of Handel’s masterwork Messiah, Haïm is joined by the orchestra and chorus of Le Concert d’Astrée, as well as four outstanding English singers – Lucy Crowe, Tim Mead, Andrew Staples and Christopher Purves.

“Haïm herself proves broadly sensitive to tempo...and balance has been excellently managed in what is a resonant acoustic. Le Concert d’Astrée's chorus numbers 20...they also keep light on their collective feet. The 26-strong orchestra, too, supplies vitality as well as solemnity and flexibility.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 ****

“Haïm directs the music with the same sort of Gallic lightness and grace that she absorbed during her early years with the French group Les Arts Florissants...The result is not as exhilarating as some, and sometimes a touch fussy, but Haïm finds expression wherever she looks and Le Concert d’Astrée respond keenly.” Financial Times, 20th December 2014 ***

“The delivery of the choruses is crisply focused and shaped impressively, Haïm sensibly opts to hire top-notch English freelancers...There are a small number of occasions when Haïm could have let the music speak more naturally for itself...Nevertheless, the fusion of dramatic mood, orchestral texture and an inspired soloist often pays off handsomely.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2014

“The soloists rise to Haïm’s challenge in fine style; all show great flexibility in adapting their voices to expressing a far wider range of emotions than Messiah is normally thought to involve...This is definitely a Messiah worth listening to; lively and varied, it really is a new injection of life into an old favourite work and a recording that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the existing benchmarks.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 8th December 2014

“the vocal ornamentation, as sung by the outstanding solo quartet...sounds entirely stylish and idiomatic...Haïm’s choir for this work, too, comprises mainly native English-speakers, and it shows in their trenchant diction. Their Hallelujah is magnificent...One of the most dramatic and exciting Messiahs in recent memory.” Sunday Times, 14th December 2014

“The choir and orchestra of Le Concert d’Astrée trot along with the trim rhythms now customary in “authentic” performances of Handel. Occasionally they slice their notes too abruptly for comfort...Among the soloists, Lucy Crowe and Christopher Purves are the most consistently pleasurable.” The Times, 28th November 2014 ***

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Erato - 2564624055

(CD - 2 discs)

$17.75

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)

$11.75

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


Decca - Double Decca - 4783946

(CD - 2 discs)

$15.00

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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)

$15.50

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


Deutsche HM - 88697606662

(CD - 2 discs)

$29.50

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)

$15.50

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


‘John Mark Ainsley sings with remarkable spiritedness throughout, exhibiting an accomplishment and beauty of his articulation in his early numbers which afford constant repetition.’ Gramophone

Booklet note and sung texts.

2009 is the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death.

The Messiah was written at great speed by Handel during the winter of 1741–2, and was received to great acclaim its first performance in Dublin in 1742. Charles Jennens compiled the text from the Bible, and the work is cast in three sections. Although a success in Dublin, the work had a less than warm welcome when it was performed in London without its title, and called ‘a New Sacred Oratorio’ to avoid causing offence to the rather puritanical British public and press. This ruse failed however, and the press were hostile. Jennens and Handel also fell out, as Jennens felt that the composer hadn’t taken enough time and care over the music! This was a low point for Handel, and he seriously contemplated leaving the UK and returning to Germany. Eventually, after a few years, and after a series of performances for charitable causes, the work became a firm favourite. It has been linked ever since with the composer’s generous charitable donations to the Foundling Hospital, of which he was a director along with William Hogarth and Thomas Coram. Messiah is the masterpiece of the English Baroque, and for 200 years has been performed by both professional and amateur choirs around the world. Handel’s gift for truly memorable tunes and (notwithstanding Jennens’s concerns) the care he took in setting the text have ensured that it has remained one of the most famous works ever composed.

Brilliant Classics Musica Sacra - 93948

(CD - 2 discs)

$11.50

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


Regis - RRC2081

(CD - 2 discs)

$11.00

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)

$18.00

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: $15.50

Special: $13.95

(also available to download from $20.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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