Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt – G.F. Handel: Messiah (2x SACD, 2005) [2.0 & 5.0] {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Concentus Musicus Wien / Nikolaus Harnoncourt – G.F. Handel: Messiah (2x SACD, 2005)
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 141:17 minutes | Scans included | 8,36 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 2,64 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.0 multichannel surround sound | Label: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi # 82876-72039-2 DDD 2

One of the most welcome releases of the year is Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s new “Messiah” with the Concentus Musicus Wien… what makes this recording so satisfying is the warmth, serenity and pliant lyricism of the performance. We have come to expect fleet tempos from the early-music movement. If anything, Mr. Harnoncourt’s tempos, over all, are spacious. The sweet-voiced tenor Michael Schade is given such freedom to shape the phrases of the accompanied recitative “Comfort ye my people,” that you listen to these words as if you had never heard them before…The soprano Christine Schдfer and the alto Anna Larsson also do radiant and affecting work. The chorus sings with impressive clarity and full-bodied yet unforced sound…Mr. Harnoncourt adheres to the manuscripts and editions of the work he deems the most reliable, especially with regard to the size of the string ensembles in the various movements. But you will not be thinking about scholarly matters while listening to this revelatory recording.

In some ways, this is the least English Messiah I’ve heard outside of Mozart’s arrangement. Only one of the four soloists (Finley) is a native English-speaker, and the Vienna-based choir must be comprised mostly if not exclusively of German-speaking singers. It would be ridiculous to suggest that Germans and Austrians should not perform Messiah in English. (Imagine suggesting that Americans shouldn’t perform Fidelio or Ein Deutsches Requiem!) My point is simply that many listeners will be caught off-guard by the occasional non-idiomatic pronunciations (for example, the alto’s “Then shall the ice of the blind be opened”!).

Harnoncourt has produced a rather paradoxical reading of the score. The choruses are intimate, even hushed, and in contrast, the solos are given a nearly operatic intensity. It feels as if the conductor is trying to tie Messiah to Handel’s earlier Italian operas in London, rather than presenting it as a fresh departure from the same. (The truth probably lies between the two.) Schade and Larsson are particularly dramatic. Schade snarls with contempt for the crowd as he describes the mocking of Christ and again in “Thou shalt break them,” and Larsson waxes lachrymose in “He was despised.” In “Why do the nations,” Finley sounds duly exercised about the nations raging together and the people imagining a vain thing. None of this is wrong; it’s just stronger stuff than we usually get. On the other hand, the “Hallelujah!” chorus almost sneaks up on us. Rather than presenting it as the work’s climax, Harnoncourt makes it a super-smooth and seamless part of the whole. There are no shrieking sopranos and screaming trumpets here!

CD1 #01. Sinfony: Grave – Allegro moderato
CD1 #02. Accompagnato: Comfort ye my people
CD1 #03. Air: Ev`ry valley shall be exalted
CD1 #04. Chorus: And the glory of the Lord
CD1 #05. Accompagnato: Thus saith the Lord
CD1 #06. Air: But who may abide the day of His coming
CD1 #07. Chorus: And He shall purify / Recitative: Behold, a virgin shall conceive
CD1 #08. Air: O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion
CD1 #09. Accompagnato: For behold, darkness shall cover the earth
CD1 #10. Air: The people that walked in darkness
CD1 #11. Chorus: For unto us a Child is born
CD1 #12. Pifa / Recitative: There were shepherds
CD1 #13. Accompagnato: And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them / Recitative: And the angel said unto them
CD1 #14. Accompagnato: And suddenly there was with the angel
CD1 #15. Chorus: Glory to God in the highest
CD1 #16. Air: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion + Recitative: Then shall the eyes of the blind
CD1 #17. Duet: He shall feed His flock
CD1 #18. Chorus: His yoke is easy
CD1 #19. Chorus: Behold the Lamb of God
CD1 #20. Air: He was despised
CD2 #01. Chorus: Surely He hath borne our griefs
CD2 #02. Chorus: And with His stripes we are healed
CD2 #03. Chorus: All we like sheep have gone astray
CD2 #04. Accompagnato: All they that see Him, laugh Him to scorn
CD2 #05. Chorus: He trusted in God
CD2 #06. Accompagnato: Thy rebuke hath broken His heart
CD2 #07. Arioso: Behold, and see if there be any sorrow
CD2 #08. Accompagnato: He was cut off out of the land of the living
CD2 #09. Air: But Thou didst not leave
CD2 #10. Chorus: Lift up your heads, O ye gates / Recitative: Unto which of the angels
CD2 #11. Chorus: Let all the angels of God worship Him
CD2 #12. Air: Thou art gone up on high
CD2 #13. Chorus: The Lord gave the word
CD2 #14. Air: How beautiful are the feet
CD2 #15. Chorus: Their sound is gone out
CD2 #16. Air: Why do the nations so furiously rage together?
CD2 #17. Chorus: Let us break their bonds asunder / Recitative: He that dwelleth in Heaven
CD2 #18. Air: Thou shalt break them
CD2 #19. Chorus: Hallelujah!
CD2 #20. Air: I know that my Redeemer liveth
CD2 #21. Chorus: Since by man came death
CD2 #22. Accompagnato: Behold, I tell you a mystery
CD2 #23. Air: The trumpet shall sound / Recitative: Then shall be brought to pass
CD2 #24. Duet: O death, where is thy sting?
CD2 #25. Chorus: But thanks be to God
CD2 #26. Air: If God be for us
CD2 #27. Chorus: Worthy is the Lamb

Christine Schäfer – soprano
Anna Larsson – alto
Michael Schade – tenor
Gerald Finley – bass
Arnold Schoenberg Chor – artistic direction by Erwin Ortner
Concentus Musicus Wien – conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt



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