RECORDINGS

LABEL: PRECISION RECORDS
CATALOG NUMBER: PVCDBS 9101
UPC NUMBER: 5011664910128
NUMBER OF DISCS: 3
RUNNING TIME: 252:13
YEAR RECORDED: 1954
CD RELEASE DATE: 1986
CONDUCTOR: HERMANN SCHERCHEN
ORCHESTRA: LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
CHOIR: LONDON PHILHARMONIC CHOIR
SOPRANO: MARGARET RITCHIE
CONTRALTO: CONSTANCE SHACKLOCK
TENOR: WILLIAM HERBERT
BASS: RICHARD STANDEN


AUDIO SAMPLES HIGHLIGHTS OTHER RELEASES

Westminster Records MONO LP,
                              No. XWN 18099 The Bach Guild
                              Records Bg 631/3

DISC ONE

SINFONIA NO. 1 TO CHORUS NO. 9 - "O THOU THAT TELLEST GOOD TIDINGS".  RECITATIVE NO. 10 - "FOR BEHOLD DARKNESS TO CVOER". TO NO. 21 - "HE SHALL FEED HIS FLOCK"
DISC TWO

CHORUS NO. 22 - "HIS YOKE IS EASY". CHORUS NO. 25 - "ALL WE LIKE SHEEP".  RECITATIVE NO. 26 - "ALL THEY THAT SEE HIM" TO CHORUS NO. 37 - "THEIR SOUND IS GONE OUT"
DISC THREE

ARIA NO. 38 - "WHY DO THE NATIONS" TO CHORUS NO. 44 - "EVEN SO IN CHRIST". RECITATIVE NO. 45 - BEHOLD, I TELL YOU A MYSTERY" TO NO. 50 "AMEN"

SITE RATING:  8/10
SITE REVIEW:  This 1954 Messiah, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Choir is perhaps the best overall recording of the 1950s.  Hermann Scherchen, (who would later return to Messiah in a 1959 recording) seems to have the most fluid direction, and this performance, although generally slower than most modern interpretations, brings out all of the dark-hued beauties in the music, beauties which cannot be appreciated when the tempo is racing along.  There are lovely orchestra colors revealed here (in warm mono sound), and an aching longing brought to "Comfort Ye" (sung with with soft gravity by tenor William Herbert), and even though the performance is spread out over three fully-loaded CDs, many of the movements are quite swift, such as the breathless "And He Shall Purify" which, to my ears, sounds positively rushed.  Unfortunately, I cannot abide contralto Constance Shacklock's thick, fruity tone, which she lavishes over all of her arias.  It's as if Julia Child were let loose in the recording studio after having taken up light opera instead of French cuisine!  The sole CD release of this fine Messiah is sadly out of print, but, to be fair, I would wish for a better reissue than what Precision Records gave us, with a grotesque portrait of Handel gracing the cover (painted by a grade-schooler?), or the strange listing of the LP track lineup on the back cover, rather than a properly divided track list.  Despite it's age, this is a recording I tend to return to, to remind me why, for so many generations, a slower, more graceful approach to Handel's Messiah was preferred.  ~ BDW


The Compleat Messiah All Content Copyright 2015 Bret D. Wheadon
All Rights Reserved.