RECORDINGS

LABEL: SONY
CATALOG NUMBER: SM2K 60205
UPC NUMBER: 074646020524
NUMBER OF DISCS: 2
RUNNING TIME: 118:24
YEAR RECORDED: 1958
CD RELEASE DATE: MARCH 31, 1998
CONDUCTOR: LEONARD BERNSTEIN
ORCHESTRA: NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC
CHOIR: WESTMINSTER CHOIR
SOPRANO: ADELE ADDISON
COUNTERTENOR: RUSSELL OBERLIN
TENOR: DAVID LLOYD
BARITONE: WILLIAM WARFIELD


AUDIO SAMPLES HIGHLIGHTS OTHER RELEASES

highlights LP
COLUMBIA MS
                              6020COLUMBIA MS 6041FCCA149Bernstein_CBS_MYK44875_1988
vinyl

DISC ONE

1. I. Overture 05:51
2. II. Recitative. Comfort ye, my people 03:30
3. III. Air. Every valley shall be exalted 03:27
4. IV. And the glory of the Lord 03:03
5. V. Recitative. Thus saith the Lord 01:44
6. VI. Air. But who may abide 04:23
7. VII. And He shall purify 02:36
8. VIII. Recitative. Behold, a virgin shall conceive 00:37
9. IX. Air. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion 05:23
10. XII. For unto us a Child is born 03:52
11. XIII. Pastoral Symphony (Pifa) 03:57
12. XIVa. Recitative. There were shepherds 00:20
13. XIVb. Recitative. And, lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them 00:29
14. XV. Recitative. And the angel said unto them 00:48
15. XVI. Recitative. And suddenly there was with the angel 00:16
16. XVII. Glory to God 01:51
17. XVIII. Air. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion 05:10
18. XIX. Recitative. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened 00:38
19. XX. Air. He shall feed His flock 06:40
20. XXXIII. Lift up your heads 03:03
21. XL. Air. Why do the nations 02:35
22. XLI. Let us break their bonds asunder 01:48
23. XLII. Recitative. He that dwelleth in heaven 00:19
24. XLIII. Air. Thou shalt break them 02:07
25. XLIV. Hallelujah! 04:48

DISC TWO
   
1. XXII. Behold the Lamb of God 04:08
2. XXIII. Air. He was despised 06:17
3. XXV. And with His stripes we are healed 03:51
4. XXVI. All we like sheep have gone astray 04:31
5. XXVII. Recitative. All they that see Him 00:50
6. XXVIII. He trusted in God 02:16
7. XXIX. Recitative. Thy rebuke hath broken His heart 02:00
8. XXX. Air. Behold, and see if there be any sorrow 02:01
9. XXXI. Recitative. He was cut off 00:32
10. XLV. Air. I know that my Redeemer liveth 08:05
11. XLVI. Since by man came death 02:09
12. XLVII. Recitative. Behold, I tell you a mystery 00:58
13. XLVIII. Air. The trumpet shall sound 03:58
14. LIII. Worthy is the Lamb; Blessings and honour, glory and power, be unto Him 07:17


SITE RATING:  4/10
SITE REVIEW:  Leonard Bernstein wins the "I'm A Genius Too!" booby prize for his remarkable chutzpah in his one-of-a-kind interpretation of Handel's Messiah.  In what can only be explained by a towering act of hubris, "He-Who-Could-Do-No-Wrong" Bernstein decided to re-order Messiah's sections into what he considered more aesthetically pleasing halves: the "Christmas" half forming the first disc, and the "Easter" half, which fills out the second disc.  Now, I'm all for artistic license, and some may say that this rearrangement is more dramatically pleasing, but in another sense, it reveals what low regard Messiah had fallen into with the musical cognoscenti of the times.  But that's not the only surprise found on this performance.  Bernstein strips the Messiah of all of its Baroque parentage, and recasts it as a Romantic epic, with huge, florid, Wagnerian swells and crashes (and that's just in the overture!) that continues throughout the performance.  Well, OK, if you enjoyed Beecham's pyrotechnics, you might enjoy this as well.  But the real thorn in this album is the performers - The Westminster Choir is the shoddiest-sounding choir I've ever heard tackle the Messiah outside of a amateur community choir - it sounds as if each singer is attempting to drown out their neighbor, with competing vibrato crashing and tripping over each other in (almost) comic ways.  Those who damn the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's performance on the Ormandy disc will realize that compared to the Westminster Choir, they sound like the soul of restraint.  And Bernstein's tempos fluctuate so wildly, and with so little logic, that several numbers sound frantically out of control, with "Why Do The Nations?" receiving a desperate reading that leaves poor William Warfield sounding as if he was soon to be suffering from the dry heaves, while the "Hallelujah" chorus is performed with all the dramatic angst of Beethoven's Fifth.  Finally, despite Sony's best remastering efforts, this is one of the muddiest-sounding Messiah's on disc, with none of the presence or immediacy of other recordings.  Little wonder that shortly after this was committed to disc, the label commissioned the Ormandy Messiah, which quickly out-performed (both critically and commercially) Bernstein's fiasco.
~ BDW



The Compleat Messiah All Content Copyright 2017 Bret D. Wheadon
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