Sunday, December 29, 2002


I wanted to get a Messiah recording on cd this Christmas. The turntable shuffled off its mortal coil and joined the choirs invisible some 5 years ago. So my 12 inch vinyl discs of Messiah have been functioning exclusively as dust-catchers. I was looking for the Colin Davis recording but couldn’t find it. (Yes, I’ve heard of But I decided on the 24th that I wanted it for Christmas day.) On someone else’s recommendation, I substituted the Andrew Davis version. All-in-all a happy recommendation.

This version uses what I think are called in the trade “augmented resources”, i.e., full symphony orchestra (The Toronto Symphony) and a choir the size of a small town. Not really what I was originally looking for. But it is a very good recording. In spite of the huge orchestra, there is still a baroque “feel” to the interpretation. The tenor – John Aler – I had not heard of before. He does a superb job. He has a rich, full tenor and his embellishments of the score are perfect. The soprano is Kathleen Battle, whom I am usually not a fan of. She often comes across as a bit too formal and cold for my taste. But on this cd there is none of that coldness. A glorious interpretation. Florence Quivar I did not know and is a pleasant surprise. The bass Samuel Ramey seems to be on half the Met broadcasts on Saturday and is very much a known-quantity. I expected good things and he delivered. A good, dramatic interpretation.

If you are looking for a Messiah recording, I forward the original recommendation on to you.


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