This week's Opera Daily features the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah
Years after singing it with St. Benedicts Glee Club at Port Authority and Newark airport, I was a guest of Aer Lingus in Dublin. While in Dublin, I searched out the Protestant Church where Handel played the organ. The rector in the Church was nasty and rude. Then he showed me the skeleton of a man chained in a cell downstairs. Ugh. The Jon Vickers CD is astounding and also the one by Colin Davis. Hallelujah, Merry Christmas or Buon Natale.
We were at Tosca at the LA Opera on Wednesday, it was awesome! Really worthwhile.
Messiah is in my top five most favorite large choral works. I have sung in performances well over a dozen times. I own over 50 recordings. Frankly I'm a Messiah fanboy. LOL One of my favorite remains, 30 years after I first heard it, the Colin Davis mid-60s recordings. Not yet a period performance as that movement has yet to happen. But it was more historically informed in pacing, etc. and so different from its predecessors from Ormandy, Sargent and the 'old school'. Still remember the first time I heard the Hogwood recording!! It was so mercurial. I like very much the Pinnock period performance and also the Vaclav Luks recording.
Luks - https://youtu.be/ZtrIpTUbtc8
Davis - audio only - https://youtu.be/UrU1aKJNIkE
Pinnock - https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBrs-r77FPJKwj71KvnuwTiewVetpckME
There's also a Charles Mackerras recording in which it seems he uses every alternate solo Handel wrote for subsequent performances. It's fun to be surprised by unexpected voices singing the solos. Don't see it on YouTube. Also, don't forget Mozart's arrangement of Messiah (talking about something unexpected--Messiah in German) - Der Messias.
On a personal note ... I grew up in Florida. Came to Madison WI to attend UW-Madison for a PhD in Music Theory (I am ABD). WI is a long way from my family and for many years I drove to FL for the Christmas holidays. And I started that drive listening to the Robert Shaw, Atlanta SO, recording of Messiah, the first recording I purchased (yes, I still own it, though now on CD; the original was vinyl that I recorded to cassette tape for those holiday trips). Did this for many, many years. My Mom is no longer with us and my siblings are all grandparents and do that grandparent thing at holiday times, so I get down there every 3 years or so. But Messiah is still a big deal for me, from performances when I attended Stetson University, to those traveling days, to now when I can listen to, or watch on YouTube as I did for a fine performance by the American Bach Soloists. Thanks for today's post and the memories.
A family tradition at the holidays, and also some of my favourite arias to sing. It always made the story better for me that it was written in such a compressed period of time, for an honourable cause (I've also heard it caused a bit of scandal for a 'religious' piece but maybe that's an 18th c. urban myth). Like many here in the comments, i have my preferred recordings. Currently it's the ones by VOCES8 with one of their partner choirs. Not many voices, such exquisite sound. Happy Holidays to you Michele.