| SITE RATING:
years, this 1966 recording by Sir Colin Davis was the standard bearer
for Baroque enthusiasts; for one thing, it eschewed the mammoth, heavy
forces that had come to define Messiah,
Davis used smaller forces and lighter tempos, so, although the
period-instrument renaissance was still decades away, it was this
recording that was held up as what Messiah
could and should
be. And even today, it's a remarkably resilient performance,
holding up much better than other recordings, either before or after.
Davis used light, dancing tempi, creating a performance that felt far
more joyful and brilliant than those of his then-contemporaries.
The London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus sound fresh and
and the soloists were chosen for their apparent youth and vitality -
tenor John Wakefield and bass John Shirley-Quirk are both brilliant,
even if, (in my opinion) they have been surpassed stylistically by more
recent talent. But its hard to argue with the force of
contralto's Helen Watts fiery performance on "But Who May Abide The Day
Of His Coming", Heather Harper's virtuoso singing on "Rejoice greatly,
o daughter of Zion." Everything here sparkles and sings.
Some have complained over the sound quality of Philips Duo
release, and have lauded the UK remaster, but to my ears, they both
sound splendid, and this performance is easily recommended as an
inexpensive first choice for listeners, and an essential part of any Messiah