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Emma Kirkby|Handel: Messiah (Remastered 2014)

Handel: Messiah (Remastered 2014)

Judith Nelson

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Recordings like Christopher Hogwood's Messiah are perfect vehicles for the debate of the authentic instrument movement in music. Especially here, since a work as well known to a wide general audience as the Messiah (the recordings of which number in the thousands) will get a number of varied reactions depending upon the performance. Hogwood, although known to many as a "father" (of sorts) to the authentic movement in music, was actually the keyboardist in Neville Marriner's Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields before leaving to form his own Academy of Ancient Music. He has done extensive scholarly research into the performance traditions of Baroque music, much of which has permanently altered many long-standing attitudes and traditions in music performance. The question remains, though: does all of this research and application contribute to a finished product that is communicative to an audience? It seems likely, if based only on the impressive cast. Augmenting the Academy's forces are tenor Paul Elliott, contralto Carolyn Watkinson, and sopranos Judy Nelson and Emma Kirkby. The Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford, is equally impressive. For this recording, as is indicated in his extensive and thorough liner notes, Hogwood utilizes the 1754 Foundling Hospital version. Although it may be a surprising change for some listeners accustomed to the more "standard" versions, the re-creation of this performance is important in a number of ways, historically and artistically. But from the opening bars of the overture, the atmosphere feels rushed. Harmonies are not given enough space or time to be heard and to blossom, and the atmosphere feels thin, grainy, cold, and dry. This seems hardly conducive to the rapture, passion, and magnificence depicted in Handel's score. Everything seems too perfect and too pure, too lifeless and too little energy. An additional annoyance is that the balance of the harpsichord seems far above the orchestra, in some cases (the "Glory of the Lord," for instance) even covering the singers when they dip into the lower registers. These complaints are now almost cliché for those who consistently complain of Hogwood's performance style; for better or worse this recording could serve well as evidence. Looking past these issues, however, one can find a number of beautiful moments throughout. It is precisely due to his approach with this music that Hogwood is able to draw some extraordinary changes of color when and where he wants to. For example, the first bars of "and He Shall Purify" are breathtaking; the organ is significantly exposed here for the first time and finally he releases the music in a way that seems to let it unravel. The vocal solos are good throughout, and Kirkby's performance is notable for its suppleness and grace. Keep in mind that this is a re-creative performance, designed to emulate the conditions of the performance at the Foundling Hospital. Unfortunately, in this case it also means that while the sound quality is certainly good, even though the playing and singing are exceptional, the performance itself may not draw you in. Years after its first release, this recording still leaves one cold, and if you desire a warm, emotional, and intimate performance you may do well to look elsewhere. For those who prefer something more austere, though, look no further.
© TiVo

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Handel: Messiah (Remastered 2014)

Emma Kirkby

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Messiah, HWV 56 / Pt. 1 (Georg Friedrich Händel)

1
Symphony (Remastered 2014)
Christopher Hogwood
00:02:51

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

2
"Comfort Ye, My People - Ev'ry Valley Shall Be Exalted" (Remastered 2014)
Paul Elliott
00:06:34

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Elliott, Tenor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

3
"And The Glory Of The Lord" (Remastered 2014)
Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
00:02:50

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, Chorus Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

4
"Thus Saith The Lord...But Who May Abide" (Remastered 2014)
Emma Kirkby
00:05:30

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Emma Kirkby, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

5
"And He Shall Purify The Sons Of Levi" (Remastered 2014)
Christopher Hogwood
00:02:41

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

6
"Behold, A Virgin Shall Conceive...O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings" (Remastered 2014)
Carolyn Watkinson
00:06:14

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Carolyn Watkinson, Contralto, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Martin Atkinson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

7
" For Behold, Darkness Shall Cover The Earth...The People That Walked In Darkness" (Remastered 2014)
Thomas David
00:05:35

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - David Thomas, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

8
"For Unto Us A Child Is Born" (Remastered 2014)
Christopher Hogwood
00:04:14

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Martin Atkinson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

9
Pifa (Pastoral Symphony) (Remastered 2014)
Christopher Hogwood
00:00:52

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

10
"There Were Shepherds...Glory To God In The Highest" (Remastered 2014)
Judith Nelson
00:03:23

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Judith Nelson, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

11
"Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter Of Zion" (Remastered 2014)
Judith Nelson
00:04:08

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Judith Nelson, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charles Jennens, Author - Martin Atkinson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

12
"Then Shall The Eyes Of The Blind ... He Shall Feed His Flock" (Remastered 2014)
Judith Nelson
00:05:03

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Judith Nelson, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

13
"His Yoke Is Easy" (Remastered 2014)
Simon Preston
00:02:35

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

Messiah, HWV 56 / Pt. 2 (Georg Friedrich Händel)

14
"Behold The Lamb Of God" (Remastered 2014)
Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
00:02:16

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

15
"He Was Despised" (Remastered 2014)
Carolyn Watkinson
00:10:13

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Carolyn Watkinson, Contralto, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

16
"Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs... And With His Stripes We Are Healed" (Remastered 2014)
Simon Preston
00:03:51

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

17
"All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray" (Remastered 2014)
Christopher Hogwood
00:04:06

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

18
"All They That See Him...He Trusted In God" (Remastered 2014)
Paul Elliott
00:02:59

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Elliott, Tenor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

19
"Thy Rebuke Hath Broken His Heart...Behold The Lamb Of God....He Was Cut Off" (Remastered 2014)
Judith Nelson
00:03:37

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Elliott, Tenor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Judith Nelson, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

20
"But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul In Hell" (Remastered 2014)
Judith Nelson
00:02:22

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Judith Nelson, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

21
"Lift Up Your Heads" (Remastered 2014)
Simon Preston
00:03:15

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

22
"Unto Which Of The Angels...Let All The Angels" (Remastered 2014)
Paul Elliott
00:01:44

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Elliott, Tenor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

23
"Thou Art Gone Up On High" (Remastered 2014)
Emma Kirkby
00:02:54

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Emma Kirkby, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

24
"The Lord Gave The Word" (Remastered 2014)
Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
00:01:13

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

25
"How Beautiful Are The Feet" (Remastered 2014)
Judith Nelson
00:02:04

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Judith Nelson, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

26
"Their Sound Is Gone Out" (Remastered 2014)
Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
00:01:21

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

27
"Why Do The Nations...Let Us Break Asunder" (Remastered 2014)
Thomas David
00:03:15

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - David Thomas, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

28
"He That Dwelleth In Heaven...Thou Shalt Break Them" (Remastered 2014)
Paul Elliott
00:02:10

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Elliott, Tenor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

29
Hallelujah (Remastered 2014)
Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
00:03:50

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Martin Atkinson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

Messiah, HWV 56 / Pt. 3 (Georg Friedrich Händel)

30
"I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" (Remastered 2014)
Judith Nelson
00:05:34

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Judith Nelson, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charles Jennens, Author - Martin Atkinson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

31
"Since By Man Came Death" (Remastered 2014)
Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
00:02:02

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

32
"Behold, I Tell You A Mystery...The Trumpet Shall Sound" (Remastered 2014)
Thomas David
00:08:59

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - David Thomas, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Martin Atkinson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

33
"Then Shall Be Brought To Pass - O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?" (Remastered 2014)
Carolyn Watkinson
00:01:22

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Carolyn Watkinson, Contralto, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Elliott, Tenor, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

34
"But Thanks Be To God" (Remastered 2014)
Simon Preston
00:02:18

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

35
"If God Be For Us" (Remastered 2014)
Emma Kirkby
00:04:21

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Emma Kirkby, Soprano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

36
"Worthy Is The Lamb...Blessing And Honour" (Remastered 2014)
Christopher Hogwood
00:03:44

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

37
Amen (Remastered 2014)
Christopher Hogwood
00:03:23

George Frideric Handel, Composer - Simon Preston, Conductor, MainArtist - Academy Of Ancient Music, Orchestra, MainArtist - Paschal Byrne, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Dunkerley, Balance Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Hogwood, Conductor, MainArtist - Charles Jennens, Author - Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Choir, MainArtist - Peter Wadland, Producer

℗ 2015 Decca Music Group Limited

Albumbeschreibung

Recordings like Christopher Hogwood's Messiah are perfect vehicles for the debate of the authentic instrument movement in music. Especially here, since a work as well known to a wide general audience as the Messiah (the recordings of which number in the thousands) will get a number of varied reactions depending upon the performance. Hogwood, although known to many as a "father" (of sorts) to the authentic movement in music, was actually the keyboardist in Neville Marriner's Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields before leaving to form his own Academy of Ancient Music. He has done extensive scholarly research into the performance traditions of Baroque music, much of which has permanently altered many long-standing attitudes and traditions in music performance. The question remains, though: does all of this research and application contribute to a finished product that is communicative to an audience? It seems likely, if based only on the impressive cast. Augmenting the Academy's forces are tenor Paul Elliott, contralto Carolyn Watkinson, and sopranos Judy Nelson and Emma Kirkby. The Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford, is equally impressive. For this recording, as is indicated in his extensive and thorough liner notes, Hogwood utilizes the 1754 Foundling Hospital version. Although it may be a surprising change for some listeners accustomed to the more "standard" versions, the re-creation of this performance is important in a number of ways, historically and artistically. But from the opening bars of the overture, the atmosphere feels rushed. Harmonies are not given enough space or time to be heard and to blossom, and the atmosphere feels thin, grainy, cold, and dry. This seems hardly conducive to the rapture, passion, and magnificence depicted in Handel's score. Everything seems too perfect and too pure, too lifeless and too little energy. An additional annoyance is that the balance of the harpsichord seems far above the orchestra, in some cases (the "Glory of the Lord," for instance) even covering the singers when they dip into the lower registers. These complaints are now almost cliché for those who consistently complain of Hogwood's performance style; for better or worse this recording could serve well as evidence. Looking past these issues, however, one can find a number of beautiful moments throughout. It is precisely due to his approach with this music that Hogwood is able to draw some extraordinary changes of color when and where he wants to. For example, the first bars of "and He Shall Purify" are breathtaking; the organ is significantly exposed here for the first time and finally he releases the music in a way that seems to let it unravel. The vocal solos are good throughout, and Kirkby's performance is notable for its suppleness and grace. Keep in mind that this is a re-creative performance, designed to emulate the conditions of the performance at the Foundling Hospital. Unfortunately, in this case it also means that while the sound quality is certainly good, even though the playing and singing are exceptional, the performance itself may not draw you in. Years after its first release, this recording still leaves one cold, and if you desire a warm, emotional, and intimate performance you may do well to look elsewhere. For those who prefer something more austere, though, look no further.
© TiVo

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