RECORDINGS

LABEL: PRIVATE PRESS
CATALOG NUMBER: E 404
UPC NUMBER: N/A
NUMBER OF DISCS: 2
RUNNING TIME: UNKNOWN
YEAR RECORDED: 1980?
CD RELEASE DATE: N/A
CONDUCTOR: ROBERT BERGLUND
ORCHESTRA: BETHEL COLLEGE CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
CHOIR: BETHEL COLLEGE CHOIR
SOPRANO: JENNIFER WOODS
ALTO: BETH EKBERG
TENOR: PAUL NESLUND
BARITONE: GERARD SUNDBERG


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DISC ONE

SIDE ONE
1. Sinfonia (Overture)
2. Comfort ye my people
3. Every Valley shall be exalted
4. And the Glory of the Lord
5. Thus saith the Lord
6. But who may abide
7. And He shall purify
8. Behold a virgin shall concieve
9. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion

SIDE TWO
1. For unto us a Child is born
2. Pifa (Pastoral Symphony
3. There were shepherds abiding
4. And lo!  The angel of the Lord
5. And the angel said unto them
6. And suddenly there was with the angel
7. Glory to God
8. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion
9. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened
10 He shall feed His flock like a shepherd
11. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light
DISC TWO

SIDE THREE
1. Behold the Lamb of God
2. He was despised and rejected of men
3. Surely He hath borne our griefs
4. And with His stripes we are healed
5. All we like sheep have gone astray
6. All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn
7. He trusted in God that He would deliver Him
8. Thy rebuke hath broken His heart
9. Behold and see if there be any sorrow

SIDE FOUR
1. Lift up your heads, O ye gates
2. The Lord gave the word
3. Hallelujah!
4. I know that my Redeemer liveth
5. Since by man came death
6. Behold, I tell you a mystery
7. The trumpet shall sound
8. Worthy is the Lamb
9. Amen


SITE RATING:  7/10
SITE REVIEW:  The Bethel College Choir and chamber orchestra, under the direction of Robert Berglund, recorded this impressively smooth Messiah sometime in the early 1980s, and it's a telling document of the times.  This was the same year which Christopher Hogwood recorded his ground-breaking nouveau baroque Messiah, and, in the sleeve notes to this recording, Robert Berglund notes the sea change that is taking place in baroque performances of the time, particularly among chamber orchestras, who, with their lighter, smaller forces, were injecting swift new tempos into previously stately interpretations. Berglund himself, who directed the Bethel College forces and taught there since the late 1950s, was an advocate and practitioner of these slower tempi for many years, but at the time of this recording, found himself caught up in the "new-wave" of faster, lighter baroque enthusiasts.  His Messiah races, the tempos bounding along.  The choir and orchestra are certainly up to the task of following their conductor; among amateur forces, these are among the tightest, smoothest-sounding performers I've ever heard; with crisp, clean melismas, and admirable unity in tone.  The soloists are nearly up to their level, with only tenor Paul Neslund sounding spread-vowelled and strident, but the rest, especially baritone Gerard Sundberg and alto Beth Ekberg giving electrifying performances.  But there's a telling problem with this performance, and it's directly tied to the "new" baroque movement - the tempos don't serve the music; in many instances, the choruses and arias are fast, simply for the sake of being fast - and the tempos draw constant attention to themselves, when the attention should be on the power of the music and the text.  I often felt while listening that many colorful dynamic opportunities were being lost, sacrificed on the altar of swiftness; which made this recording interesting as a touchstone of the era, but also a caution against following a trend for its own sake.

The Compleat Messiah All Content Copyright © 2011 Bret D. Wheadon
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