Notes and Editorial Reviews
It was this set which, in company with one from Sir Colin Davis issued by Philips a few weeks earlier, inaugurated the era of 'progressive' Messiah recordings. They had of course been foreshadowed—by Sir Adrian Boult, notably, and by the work of such editors as John Tobin and Watkins Shaw. But this was one of the first to use a chamber orchestra, lively tempos and ornamentation: and between them Davis and Mackerras made us listen afresh to a work whose performance traditions had threatened to become hidebound... The forces aren't 'authentic', but rather larger, and women's voices are used in the chorus. It is however an excellent chorus, well disciplined and clean. The solo singing is of a high order. Dame Janet Baker is in superlative voice... There is much charm in Elizabeth Harwood's soprano solos, as always, and Paul Esswood is at his superb best in ''But who may abide''. Robert Tear sings the tenor music clearly and tastefully and Raimund Herincx makes a sturdy bass soloist... If you want a Messiah that discards the old, solemn, heavyweight traditions, yet does not go as far as using period instruments, this one is unlikely to disappoint you.
-- Stanley Sadie, Gramophone [12/1989]