Notes and Editorial Reviews
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).
Works on This Recording
Messiah, HWV 56 by George Frideric Handel
Matthew Rose (Bass),
Allan Clayton (Tenor),
Alice Coote (Mezzo Soprano),
Alastair Ross (Organ),
Ailish Tynan (Soprano)
Academy of Ancient Music,
Cambridge King's College Choir
Written: 1741; London, England
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