Edward Higginbottom

Handel: Messiah (1751 version)

  • AllMusic Rating
    10
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Many early music performers strive to re-create the style and expressions of a certain period, working within a consensus of opinions on what constitutes authentic performance practice. But some go quite a bit further and reproduce a work with all the known details of instrumentation and the specific features of a historic performance. Not only have Edward Higginbottom and the excellent Academy of Ancient Music reconstructed the well-documented 1751 version of George Frideric Handel's Messiah, but they have performed it with the superb New College Choir, Oxford, gifted virtuoso vocalists such as tenor Toby Spence and bass Eamon Dougan, along with trebles Henry Jenkinson, Otta Jones, Robert Brooks, and countertenor Iestyn Davies, following Handel's employment of men and boys in his London performances. As much as anyone can make the Messiah sound authentic, like a living, breathing, organic work of the eighteenth century -- played on original instruments with the highest musicality, and with all the refinements of Baroque embellishment and improvisation -- Higginbottom and his skillful musicians make this overly familiar oratorio seem utterly revived with their fresh sounding timbres and the choir's lighter voices; and they deliver it with the vitality, passion, beauty, and excitement that might make one forget, if not exactly forgive, what the stodgy Victorians and their pious ilk did to this vibrant masterpiece. Considering the vast array of historically informed recordings available, listeners in search of a great version can rest assured that this is one of the absolute best, and be grateful that Naxos has given this project such lavish production values and its finest engineering. This exquisite presentation of Messiah is recommended as one of the finest recordings of 2006.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
1
3:04 Amazon
2
3:13
3
3:19
4
2:31
5
1:27
6
4:30
7
2:32
8
0:24
9
5:42
10
2:09
11
3:35
12
3:52 Amazon
13
2:13
14
1:28
15
2:14
16
4:05
17
0:23
18
4:53
19
2:19
20
2:49
21
12:21 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
1
2:01
2
1:55
3
3:33
4
0:42
5
2:21
6
1:45
7
1:32
8
0:17
9
1:59
10
3:08
11
0:19
12
1:39
13
3:10
14
1:12
15
2:17
16
1:32
17
2:48
18
1:53
19
0:10
20
2:16
21
4:03
22
5:43
23
2:05
24
0:36
25
8:38
26
0:15
27
1:06
28
2:11
29
4:53
30
3:16
31
3:34
blue highlight denotes track pick