Apollo Chorus of Chicago

Handel: Messiah

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Complete recordings of George Frideric Handel's Messiah were once uncommon, since a handful of recitatives and arias were traditionally cut from the second and third parts, in the interest of expediting the concluding choruses. However, with the rise of historically informed performances, most modern, thoroughgoing recordings include every familiar number, though in various sanctioned versions; many ensembles present the oratorio with period instrumentation, appropriate ornamentation, and reasonable approximations of Baroque style. This 2006 release from Stephen Alltop and the Apollo Chorus of Chicago is as complete as most of the releases that follow serious Handel research. As far as the instrumentation and practices can be called "authentic," this recording falls pretty much in line with consensus. The choruses are the most enjoyable tracks of this performance, for the reason that Alltop and his singers are simpatico and fully rehearsed, and their performances of such stunning numbers as "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion," "For unto us a child is born," "Behold, the Lamb of God," and, of course, "Hallelujah," match anything produced by the most prominent early music choirs. Somewhat less pleasurable are the arias from soprano Maria Jette, contralto Patrice Djerejian, tenor William Hite, and baritone Jeffrey Strauss, who, while generally pleasant in tone and expression, become a little too florid in their embellishments and unsteady in intonation. The Apollo Chorus' chamber orchestra is brisk in tempo and crisp in details, and the light accompaniment is supported by a responsive continuo, which gives the music the right amount of harmonic realization and rhythmic vitality. Clarion's sound is clear and resonant, and the recording in Chicago's Harris Theater is almost without blemishes, except for some coughs and odd building noises.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
1
3:03 Amazon
2
2:51 Amazon
3
3:20 Amazon
4
2:49 Amazon
5
1:21 Amazon
6
4:39 Amazon
7
2:23 Amazon
8
0:22 Amazon
9
5:11 Amazon
10
1:46 Amazon
11
3:46 Amazon
12
3:54 Amazon
13
1:03 Amazon
14
0:28 Amazon
15
0:32 Amazon
16
0:16 Amazon
17
1:48 Amazon
18
4:33 Amazon
19
0:31 Amazon
20
4:57 Amazon
21
2:10 Amazon
22
2:49 Amazon
23
10:16 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56
1
1:44 Amazon
2
1:56 Amazon
3
3:56 Amazon
4
0:42 Amazon
5
2:23 Amazon
6
1:37 Amazon
7
1:21 Amazon
8
0:15
9
2:22
10
2:54
11
0:13
12
1:26
13
3:10
14
1:03
15
2:14
16
1:25
17
2:34
18
1:49
19
0:12
20
2:09
21
3:45
22
5:54
23
1:46
24
0:31
25
8:34
26
0:16
27
1:06
28
2:11
29
5:14
30
7:44
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