Emmanuelle Haïm / Le Concert d'Astrée

Handel: Messiah

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AllMusic Review by

A spectacular version on period instruments in historically informed style, Emmanuelle Haïm's rendition of George Frideric Handel's Messiah with Le Concert d'Astrée was among the finest to appear in 2014. Vigorous in rhythm and brisk in tempo, the performance is extremely lively and exciting, without a trace of traditional religiosity or stodginess, and the drama inherent in Handel's music is brilliantly realized in the energetic singing and playing. Featuring soprano Lucy Crowe, countertenor Andrew Staples, tenor Tim Mead, and bass Christopher Purves in a well-balanced quartet, and a chamber choir and orchestra that are as limber as they are lean, the oratorio moves at a rapid clip and takes little time to brood. Even the customarily slow numbers move along at a comfortable walking pace, and Haïm ensures that they maintain interest through transparent textures, fresh ornamentation, and forward momentum. This interpretation may be a little too exciting for listeners who like their Messiah reflective and reverent, but fans of the streamlined counterpoint and scintillating timbres of Baroque performance practice will enjoy the vitality and bright sonorities of this recording. Highly recommended, whether on CD, SACD, or digital download.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Messiah, HWV 56
1 2:56
2 2:52
3 3:04
4 2:30
5 1:25
6 4:11
7 2:25
8 0:25
9 4:54
10 2:16
11 3:37
12 3:53
13 2:34
14 0:10
15 0:16
16 0:30
17 0:17
18 1:53
19 4:04
20 0:24
21 5:17
22 2:19
23 2:31
24 10:10

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Messiah, HWV 56
1 1:47
2 2:05
3 3:24
4 0:41
5 2:20
6 1:22
7 1:29
8 0:15
9 2:09
10 2:56
11 0:14
12 1:29
13 2:51
14 1:06
15 2:20
16 1:23
17 2:43
18 1:40
19 0:10
20 1:50
21 3:38
22 5:59
23 1:59
24 0:38
25 8:43
26 0:15
27 0:55
28 1:59
29 4:40
30 7:11
blue highlight denotes track pick