Trevor Pinnock / Arleen Augér / The English Concert

George Frideric Handel: The Messiah

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AllMusic Review by

A true classic of historically informed performance practice, Trevor Pinnock's 1988 recording of George Frederick Handel's Messiah with the English Concert and Choir is one of the finest versions available to offer authentic instruments and lively, embellished singing that is idiomatic to the Baroque period. With such superb soloists as soprano Arleen Augér, contralto Anne Sofie von Otter, countertenor Michael Chance, tenor Howard Crook, and bass John Tomlinson performing at a consistently high level of vocal quality and interpretive skill, and with the choir singing with lean lines and crisp enunciation, the oratorio's text is perfectly understandable and enjoyable for its dramatic retelling of the Gospel narrative. But the musical glory of this recording is the marvelous sound of the English Concert, which supplies the accompaniment with radiant sonorities and exciting rhythmic vitality, and makes this Messiah a clear demonstration of why rediscovering period practice is essential to revealing the true nature of early music. At the time of its release, this version was still a pioneering effort, competing against many other recordings of Messiah in a stodgy traditional style that bore the stylistic accretions of over two centuries. But Pinnock and his fellows in the cause stripped away the musicological varnish and made knowledge of Baroque instrumentation and ornamentation essential to performing the music of Handel and other composers of the era, and the effects of their efforts are obvious in most recordings of the 21st century.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
1
3:23
2
3:25
3
3:31
4
2:51
5
1:35
6
4:45
7
2:25
8
0:29
9
5:30
10
3:03
11
3:55
12
4:04
13
1:10
14
1:34
15
1:59
16
4:48
17
0:21
18
6:09
19
2:21
20
3:17
21
13:15

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
1
2:27
2
1:52
3
3:54
4
0:46
5
2:33
6
1:49
7
1:59
8
0:14
9
2:08
10
3:04
11
0:12
12
1:29
13
3:10
14
1:05
15
2:37
16
1:22
17
2:56
18
1:48
19
0:10
20
2:05
21
3:58
22
6:42
23
2:20
24
0:31
25
8:59
26
0:16
27
1:03
28
2:12
29
4:41
30
7:30
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