Sunday, 15 June 2008

110. Georg Firedric Handel - Messiah (1742)


Title: Messiah
Performers: Clare College Choir, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Director: René Jacobs
Year: 2006
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes (2 CDs)


This has been my favourite baroque sacred music piece since I was a small child, I can sing through most of it (badly), and that is a testimony to how "catchy" the music is. This is Handel at his best, comparable to how good he was in Caesar, songs that stick with you with a great epic feel to them.

The concept of the thing is the story of Christ divided into three sections, the first one concerns the advent and birth of Christ, the second the Passion and the third has to do with revelation and second-coming. One of the best things about it is how Handel manages to change the emotional sound of the work to fit these three events.

One piece here is particularly well-known, the Hallelujah is one of the most famous pieces of choral music ever, but it has also been overused and loses its potency because of that, but the music here is indeed potent, and listening to the whole thing you get a perspective on the bits that you already know and are bound to discover some pearls. Jacobs recording emphasises the best aspects of the composition, this is a grandiose recording which suits the music perfectly. Highly Recommended.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

In the summer of 1741 Handel, at the peak of his musical prowess but depressed and in debt, began setting Charles Jennens' Biblical libretto to music at his usual breakneck speed. In just 24 days, Messiah was complete. Like many of Handel's compositions, it borrows liberally from earlier works, both his own and those of others. Tradition has it that Handel wrote the piece while staying as a guest at Jennens' country house (Gopsall Hall) in Leicestershire, England, although no evidence exists to confirm this. It is thought that the work was completed inside a garden temple, the ruins of which have been preserved and can be visited.

It was premiered during the following season, in the spring of 1742, as part of a series of charity concerts in Neal's Music Hall on Fishamble Street near Dublin's Temple Bar district. Right up to the day of the premiere, Messiah was troubled by production difficulties and last-minute rearrangements of the score, and the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Jonathan Swift, placed some pressure on the premiere and had it cancelled entirely for a period. He demanded that it be retitled A Sacred Oratorio and that revenue from the concert be promised to local hospitals for the mentally ill. The premiere happened on 13 April at the Music Hall in Dublin, and Handel led the performance from the harpsichord with Matthew Dubourg conducting the orchestra. Dubourg was an Irish violinist, conductor and composer. He had worked with Handel as early as 1719 in London.

Glory of the lord:

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