Handel’s ever-popular Messiah was recorded live in the superb acoustic of Boston’s Symphony Hall, to mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Handel and Haydn Society, America’s longest-standing performing arts organization. Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742 and the Handel and Haydn Society gave the first complete performance of the work in the USA in 1818. It has been performed annually in Boston as part of the Handel and Haydn Society concert season every year since 1854.
In his rendering of the score, Harry Christophers eloquently guides us through the entire oratorio with a steady hand and firm conviction. The tempi are sprightly where they ought to be, evenRead more sparkling like jewels at times—but not blazing as if on fire—and are equally slackened when they need to be. Further, the text is not merely declaimed; rather, every word is expressed!
The period instrument orchestra plays each and every note, trill, and ornament to perfection. As one would expect, the soloists are likewise fantastic. Soprano Gillian Keith, countertenor Daniel Taylor, tenor Tom Randle, and baritone Sumner Thompson off er impressive virtuoso contributions.
The chorus’s full-bodied yet accurate ensemble singing perked up these ears from the very first pitch of “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed” all the way through “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain” and the mammoth, closing “Amen.”