Harnoncourt: Handel – Messiah (2 CD, FLAC)


Harnoncourt: Handel - Messiah (2 SACD/DSD, FLAC)
Harnoncourt: Handel - Messiah (2 SACD/DSD, FLAC)

Performer: Gerald Finley, Concentus Musicus Wien, Christine Schafer, Michael Schade
Conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Composer: George Frederick Handel
Audio CD
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 2
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Sony / BMG / Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
ASIN: B000BDGWC6
Size: 705 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
Composed by George Frideric Handel
with Christine Schafer, Michael Schade, Anna Larsson, Gerald Finley, Vienna Concentus Musicus
Conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt

01. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; Sinfonia: Grave – Allegro moderato
02. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; Comfort ye my people (Accompagnato)
03. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; Ev’ry valley shall be exalted (Air)
04. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; And the glory of the Lord (Chorus)
05. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; Thus sayth the Lord (Accompagnato)
06. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; But who may abide ( Air)
07. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; And He shall purify (Chorus)
08. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (Air)
09. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; For behold, darkness shall cover the earth (Accompagnato)
10. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; The people that walked in darkness (Air)
11. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; For unto us a child is born (Chorus)
12. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; Pifa
13. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them (Accompagnato)
14. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; And suddenly there was with the angel (Accompagnato)
15. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; Glory to God (Chorus)
16. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion (Air)
17. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; He shall feed His flock (Duet)
18. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 1; His yoke is easy (Chorus)
19. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Behold the Lamb of God (Chorus)
20. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; He was despised (Air)
21. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Surely He hath borne our griefs (Chorus)
22. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; And with His stripes we are healed (Chorus)
23. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; All we like sheep have gone astray (Chorus)
24. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn (Accompagnato)
25. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; He trusted in God (Chorus)
26. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Thy rebuke hath broken His heart (Accompagnato)
27. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Behold, and see if there be any sorrow (Arioso)
28. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; He was cut off out of the land of the living (Accompagnato)
29. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell (Air)
30. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Lift up your heads, O ye gates (Chorus)
31. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Let all the angels of God worship Him (Chorus)
32. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Thou art gone up high (Air)
33. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; The Lord gave the word (Chorus)
34. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; How beautiful are the feet (Air)
35. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Their sound is gone out (Chorus)
36. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Why do the nations so furiously rage together? (Bass)
37. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Let us break their bonds (Chorus)
38. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Thou shalt break them (Air)
39. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 2; Hallelujah (Chorus)
40. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 3; I know that my Redeemer liveth (Air)
41. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 3; Since by man came death (Chorus)
42. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 3; Behold, I tell you a mystery (Accompagnato)
43. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 3; The trumpet shall sound (Air)
44. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 3; Then shall be brought to pass. O death where is thy sting (Recitative & Duet)
45. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 3; But thanks be to God (Chorus)
46. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 3; If God be for us (Air)
47. Messiah, HWV 56; Part 3; Worthy is the Lamb (Chorus)

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Harnoncourt transforms the Messiah–mesmerizing, startling highlights

Now that the Messiah has received popularity that some might deem excessive, we’ve all grown accustomed to every bar and nuance. Handel’s score is a masterpiece, hence its wide following, but for myself, having sung the work numerous times with local groups as well as hearing it on disc since infancy, there are times I want new, radical ideas. I can testify that this reading from Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his Concentus Musicus Wien (an authentic group as fine as they come) is full of truly novel insights. Every bar seems to convey a new emotion, a welcome relief from readings that seem to be a predictable, religious trudge.

But unlike many of his compatriots, Harnoncourt’s lack of thick, gushy sentimentality isn’t code for bland cheerfulness and lack of direction. Drama is used to the extreme but the music moves with definite purpose. What makes this reading revolutionary is that Harnoncourt seems to have overlooked a century of frequent performances that has tended towards stereotyping and monotony. In this way, Harnoncourt’s freshness may seem backward-looking. But he combines a feel of great mystery and expectation with the intimacy and tenderness afforded by a period ensemble. These are romantic interpretations in almost every way, though. The nuance and affection in Harnoncourt’s phrasing–which has a high dosage of unconstrained rubato–certainly isn’t heard every day.

Among the soloists, all of which are front tier, the standout is Gerald Finley, whose vibrant, volatile singing fits perfectly with Harnoncourt’s rethinking. The professional Arnold Schoenberg Choir sings with conviction and pinpoint accuracy. We feel the many surges in Harnoncourt’s conducting conveyed with sensitivity across a wide range of expression. In all, it’s hard to point to a weakness in this recording outside of the fact that we only get one disc of selections. I can’t imagine what the whole work would sound like under such inspiration, but what we have is 77 minutes of transforming musicianship that would be hard to forget.


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