December DVD of the Month: Messiah

Why yet another Messiah?

You should remember that when Handel arrived somewhere to perform his oratorio, he had soloists of varying standards available to him. So he would revise his score accordingly… All this is directly related to the reality of Handel’s situation as a concert promoter.

In those days, to earn a living from his music, a composer absolutely had to get his works performed and make a profit on the evening. The idea of not retouching a work to avoid “spoiling” or “distorting” it is a much more modern one. There must be around a dozen versions of Messiah.

The 1754 version on this recording is rarely played because it calls for five soloists: two sopranos, alto, tenor and bass… I’ve opted here for an operatic interpretation, taking its cue from the drama inherent in this account of the life of Christ.

Here is a section of this music:


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