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Handel: Messiah (1754 Version) / Piau, Niquet, Le Concert Spirituel

Release Date: 11/17/2017 
Label:  Alpha Productions   Catalog #: 362  
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Andreas WolfAnthea PichanickKatherine WatsonSandrine Piau,   ... 
Conductor:  Hervé Niquet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert Spirituel
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Why yet another Messiah? ‘I went through the different scores that exist and decided on the very interesting 1754 version, which features five soloists. You must remember that, when Handel arrived somewhere to perform his oratorio, he had soloists of varying standards available to him. So he quickly revised his score accordingly... All this is directly related to the reality of Handel’s situation as a concert promoter. In those days, to earn a living from his music, a composer absolutely had to get his works performed and make a profit on the evening. The idea of not retouching a work to avoid “spoiling” or “distorting” it is a much more modern one. There must be around a dozen versions of Messiah (I won’t list them all). The 1754 version Read more is rarely played because it calls for five soloists: two sopranos, alto, tenor and bass... I’ve opted here for an operatic interpretation, taking its cue from the drama inherent in this account of the life of Christ.’ (Herve Niquet) This deluxe edition also includes a fascinating portrait of Herve Niquet, an interview organised around thirty keywords (from ‘Dance’ to ‘Nerves’) that sheds new light on one of the most atypical conductors on today’s musical scene.

This deluxe package presents the oratorio on two CDs, issued in a hardcover book that explains not only the background of Messiah, but also Niquet’s quasi-operatic interpretation, which emphasizes the spiritual drama of the work and removes it from the overly reverent tradition that prevailed from the 19th century until the 1980s. Highly recommended.

– All Music Guide Read less

Works on This Recording

Messiah, HWV 56 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Andreas Wolf (Bass), Anthea Pichanick (Voice), Katherine Watson (Soprano),
Sandrine Piau (Soprano), Rupert Charlesworth (Tenor)
Conductor:  Hervé Niquet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert Spirituel
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1741; London, England 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  4 Customer Reviews )
 Fast Paced, mostly enjoyable, no wallowing Solois February 11, 2018 By Jonathan S. (Anchorage, AK) See All My Reviews "Maestro Niquet stated that his intent was to produce an operatic interpretation of Messiah to get away from the overly reverent renditions that predominate, so, having had enough of self-aggrandizing soloists wallowing in the libretto, I happily ordered this edition. On first listen I was aghast at the pacing. 2 days later I gave it another try, and found I could appreciate the majority of the reading. I would have appreciated a greater variety of tempi. The Sinfonia informs the listener this is going to be a faster reading than the majority of interpretations. I can happily report there is no wallowing about in the libretto, there is just no time allowed for that. The majority of tempi in Parts 1 and 3 are bearable to enjoyable; Every Valley and Comfort Ye are perfect, as is I Know that My Redeemer Liveth. The appreciated lack of wallowing aside, Part 2 leaves me wanting a slower pace; it's as if we are rushing to Hallelujah and want to get through the pain and suffering leading up to it as quickly as possible, missing the necessity of it. It's like "Nessun Dorma" would feel if it was zipped through at 75 vs. 50, it could be done, but the depth of emotion would be lacking, and that's how the quick pace of Part 2 leaves me feeling. Overall this interpretation is beautifully played; the enunciation of the Choir and Soloists is unmatched in any other recording, and, if you want a Messiah without the bellowing soloists, this is worth a listen. Is it the perfect Messiah? No. Could it have been? I believe so. If Maestro Niquet recorded another interpretation I would try it out too, hoping he'd read this review of course!" Report Abuse
 Wonderful Interpretation of Handel's Masterpiece February 2, 2018 By G. Brown (River Edge, NJ) See All My Reviews "This is a wonderful interpretation of Handel's beloved masterpiece, Messiah. Maestro Niquet has chosen Handel's 1754 Foundling Hospital scoring, requiring five soloists rather than the usual four. One can say there is no absolute final version of the work since Handel himself re-scored the work many times depending upon the soloists and choirs available to him for a performance. Herve Niquet's interpretation is dramatic in conveying the life and suffering of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; yet it has lightness and wonderful turns of phrasing by all involved. There are some unexpected interpretive flourishes here and there also. All of this is refreshing to hear. The soloists are all excellent and sing with feeling for each aria and recitative with proper ornamentation. The Alpha engineers captured a true acoustic on the fly without any audience interference. Parts of the work are taken at a faster tempo than I would like, but that is a small quibble, (the only reason for 4 stars instead of 5). Another live recording of Messiah with a very similar approach is the Haller recording on K617, and is one I also highly recommend." Report Abuse
 Delighted January 25, 2018 By Julian Kerrell-Vaughan See All My Reviews "I bought the CDs of Niquet's version of Handel's "Messiah" entirely on the strength of the thrilling video excerpts on the Arkiv site. At the same time I ordered a set as a Christmas present. Neither I nor the recipient of that gift was anything other than delighted. This really is a fine interpretation." Report Abuse
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