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George Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759) 
Messiah (1741) (excerpts) (sung in German) 
Regina Werner (soprano); Heidi Reiss (alto); Peter Schreier (tenor); Theo Adam (bass)
Solitenvereinigung und Rundfunkchor Berlin (choir)
Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester Berlin/Helmut Koch
rec. 1975
BERLIN CLASSICS 0014302BC
 [62:04]
Experience Classicsonline


These highlights come from a German language recording of Messiah made in 1975. It is a good representation of the popular items in Messiah, however, the alto is represented by only half a duet.
 

After being accustomed for many years to the early performance style given to us by the many specialists in this field, the Overture comes as quite a shock. Its smooth legato is more reminiscent of the romantic composers than of Handel, particularly as this was recorded in 1975. It sounds akin to Malcolm Sargent’s 1965 recording, and it is interesting to compare it with Charles Mackerras’s 1967 version which is much more in keeping with the Handelian style as we now perceive it. 

The solo singing is on the whole forceful and set at an almost constant forte. There’s little sense of style, which is surprising for this date and given the soloists’ credentials as exponents of lieder and Bach. Indeed, I skipped the repeat of The Trumpet Shall Sound because I didn’t think I’d survive the onslaught. All the arias are sung ‘straight’ with none of the embellishments we have become accustomed to over the years, making them sound bland. 

It is only when we get to track 6 For Unto Us a Child is Born that any lightness begins to become apparent and shows that a big choir is not a disadvantage in this music. But it is short-lived. The Hallelujah and Amen choruses are loud and become louder - wonderful if you like it shouted from the rooftops. Personally, I prefer some light and shade. 

In fact, the whole disk is like a trip down memory lane to the 1950s and 1960s - a time of large-scale performances with a full symphony orchestra and choir playing and singing in smooth legato. 

There is no booklet giving texts or translation; nor do we get any information about the work or Handel. There’s just a track-listing (in German only) on the back of the case. 

This is more for those who wish to immerse themselves in thick orchestral sound and big-boned choruses. It may also suit those who wish to remind themselves of how far we have come in understanding the style of this music.

Arther Smith

Tracklisting:


1. Sinfonia, Grave - Allegro moderato, (Overture)
2. Tröstet rnein Volk (Accompagnato Tenor), (Comfort Ye)
3. Alle Tale rnacht hoch erhaben (Arie Tenor), (Every Valley)
4. Denn die Herrlichkeit Gottes, des Herrn (Chor), (And The Glory)
5. Das Volk, das da wandelt (Arie Baß), (The People Who Walked In Darkness)
6. Denn es ist uns ein Kind geboren (Chor), (For Unto Us a Child is Born)
7. Sinfonia. pastorale (pifa), (Pastoral Symphony)
8. Er welder seine Herde (Duett Alt, Sopran), (And He Shall Feed His Flock)
9. Warum denn rasen die Heiden (Arie Baß), (Why Do The Nations)

10. Auf, zerreißt ihre Bande (Chor), (Let Us Break Their Bonds Asunder)
11. Der da wohnet im Himmel (Rezitativ Tenor), (He That Dwelleth in Heaven)
12. Du zersclilägst sie (Arie Tenor), (Thou Shalt Break Them)
13. Halleluja (Chor), (Hallelujah)
14. Ich weiß daß mein Erlöser lebet (Arie Sopran), (I Know That My Redeemer Liveth)
15. Vernehmt, ich künd ein Geheimnis an (Baß), (Behold, I Tell You a Mystery)
16. Die Tromba erschallt (Arie Baß), (The Trumpet Shall Sound)
17. Amen (Chor), (Amen)

 


 




 


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