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Hello People,

I am currently listening to tons of different interpretations of Handel's Messiah and I found them to be disparate sometimes. The tempo could be performed very differently (maybe because of the lack of tempo indications by Handel?), and there could be different use of instruments (harpsichord or not, organ or not), the use of the HIP, even the choir (female or children singers?) and many other variabilities. Personally, I like the recordings with HIP and ancient instruments such as organ and a nice-sounding harpsichord. Considering that Messiah is a religious composition, it is better to make it sound more Baroque. The tempo is really not a concern to me because I believe a faster and a slower interpretation both makes sense to me. So which one is your favorite, and why?

KevinW
 

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- Colin Davis ca. 1966 for a "classic" that despite a few aspects (improvised ornaments) that seem a bit curious nowadays remains very fresh for me.

- McCreesh for a modern "HIP" recording that is not small scale.
 

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The two main ones I listen to now are Dunedin Consort and William Christie's. The former's sound quality is some of the greatest I've ever heard in any recording, and many of its renditions are definitive in my opinion (no other version of He Was Despised needs to exist if you have this one). My only issue is that it's the Dublin edition of the score, which I didn't know existed, and so a few pieces have alterations that I don't like much at all. Overall it's my favorite.

The sound on William Christie's isn't quite as crisp, but I find it the most "perfect" in terms of being faithful. A few things are arguably a bit fast, but in a way that still works and sounds appropriate.

Hogwood's Messiah has quite a bit of awkwardness, but it rivals the Consort recording in terms of crispness and raw energy, so I like to revisit on occasion.

One particular aria that I recommend a specific recording of is Lynne Dawson's Rejoice Greatly. The performance it comes from is quite good, but her version of that is far, far and away the absolute best I have ever heard. It was a track I tended to skip until I heard her version of it.

 

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My favorite by far is from the Academy of Ancient Music. Emma Kirkby was just perfect here. I believe this recording uses period instruments too.

Here is a link to the playlist.

 

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Not HIP, but:

Karl Richter /DG, the English version (he also made a German one)
Ah yes, I have the German Richter set. Another in German is Koch. It is a fun listen, but not something I would listen to a whole lot.
 

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No, Popp must be a on later recording, there is one with Marriner/Stuttgart from the 1980s. The 1960s Richter in German has Janowitz. I don't like it anyway; the soloists are pretty good but the whole thing is stodgy and not very good, IMO.
 

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No, Popp must be a on later recording, there is one with Marriner/Stuttgart from the 1980s. The 1960s Richter in German has Janowitz. I don't like it anyway; the soloists are pretty good but the whole thing is stodgy and not very good, IMO.
You're right don't you like the Richter or the Marriner?
 

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Richter in German, versus Richter in English, are different from each other.

The English one was also used in a sort of movie, with the complete work as a soundtrack for documentary sequences about people's lives around the globe. This was back in the 70s-80s; unfortunately I don't remember details about who made it.
 

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You're right don't you like the Richter or the Marriner?
I don't know the (German EMI) Marriner. The mid-1970s Decca/Argo Marriner is very good although quite fast/lean in a pre-HIP fashion and he uses an uncommon edition that can be a bit surprising at times
I don't care for the (German) Richter, except for a few solos, such as Janowitz. ;) I have not heard the later (English) Richter recording, the German one turned me sufficiently off. It's not that there was a dearth of Messiah recordings...
 

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Hi everyone!

I’ve been listening to Messiah recordings for ever. A work of stupendous genius. The first one I bought was Mackerras and was considered revolutionary at the time in that it was in Basil Lam’s edition and employed a counter tenor (Paul Esswood) and (then) brisk tempi. It had an incredible ‘He was despised’ by Janet Baker - best ever! Since then with increasing availability of cheap CDs I have many more in my collection, the latest (Emmanuel Haim) costing just 20p from a thrift shop! Terrific versions from Pinnock, Gardiner, McCreesh and Christie all are very special.
 
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