RECORDINGS

LABEL: THE SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION
CATALOG NUMBER: N 025
UPC NUMBER: N/A
NUMBER OF DISCS: 3
RUNNING TIME: UNKNOWN
DATE RECORDED: DECEMBER 15-20, 1980
LP RELEASE DATE: 1981
CONDUCTOR: JAMES WEAVER
ORCHESTRA: THE SMITHSONIAN CHAMBER PLAYERS
CHOIR: THE AMERICAN BOYCHOIR WITH MEMBERS OF THE NORMAN SCRIBNER CHORUS
SOPRANO: CAROLE BOGARD
ALTO: ELVIRA GREEN
COUNTERTENOR: JEFFREY GALL
TENOR: CHARLES BRESSLER
BASS: LESLIE GUINN


AUDIO SAMPLES HIGHLIGHTS OTHER RELEASES

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DISC ONE

SIDE ONE
1. Sinfony
2. Comfort ye my people
3. Ev'ry valley shall be exalted
4. And the glory of the Lord
5. Thus saith the Lord
6. But who may abide the day of His coming
7. And He shall purify/Behold a virgin shall conceive
8. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion

SIDE TWO
9. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth
10. The people that walked in darkness
11. For unto us a child is born
12. Pifa / There were shepherds abiding in the fields
13. And lo, the angle of the lord came upon them
14. And suddenly there was with the angel
15. Glory to God
16. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion / And then shall the eyes of the blind be open'd
17. He shall feed his flock
18. His yoke is easy

DISC TWO

SIDE THREE
19. Behold the Lamb of God
20. He was despised
21. Surely He hath borne our griefs
22. And with His stripes we are healed
23. All we like sheep have gone astray
24. All they that see Him
25. He trusted in God

SIDE FOUR
26. Thy rebuke hath broken His heart
27. Behold and see if there be any sorrow
28. He was cut off
29. But thou didst not leave
30. Lift up your heads, O ye gates / Unto which of the angels
31. Let all the angels of God worship Him
32. Thou art gone up on high
33. The Lord gave the word
34. How beautiful are the feet / Break forth into joy
35. Their sound is gone out

DISC TWO

SIDE FIVE
36. Why do the nations so furiously rage together?
37. Let us break their bonds asunder / He that dwelleth in heaven
38. Thou shalt break them
39. Hallelujah
40. I know that my Redeemer liveth
41. Since by man came death

SIDE SIX
42. Behold, I tell you a mystery
43. The trumpet shall sound / Then shall be brought to pass
44. O death, where is thy sting?
45. But thanks be to God
46. If God be for us
47. Worthy is the Lamb

SITE RATING:  8/10
SITE REVIEW:  I'm not certain why this 1980 recording performed by The Smithsonian Chamber Players, The American Boychoir and ably conducted by James Weaver hasn't remained in print.  One of the very few American recordings to feature a boy choir taking the lead part in Messiah, and played on period instruments, this performance has many strong points, including a alternately sensitive, fiery turn by countertenor Jeffrey Gall - I found his performance of "Thou art gone up on high" completely masterful, while alto Elvira Green equally matches him.  Alternately, bass Leslie Guinn is far too bright and "American" for my tastes, sounding more like a Broadway belter than a classical stylist, giving aggressive, pointed readings to most of his arias, but tenor Charles Bressler is wonderful - possessing gorgeously-hued tones and a bravura sense of style.  Soprano Carole Bogard sounds detached and clinical in her readings, and seems to be recorded closer than her fellow soloists, accentuating her forward, unflattering sound.  The American Boychoir, who is supported by members of The Norman Scribner Chorus, is fully up to the task of tackling the difficult Messiah choruses, providing a somewhat richer, full-blooded tone than heard in the English choir tradition. Weaver's direction is very clean - his tempos and direction are straight and mannered - eschewing the bright, fast tempos of modern baroque styling, but not falling into Victorian largess - rather finding a comfortable middle ground which I found very approachable, if a little deliberate.  I found this to be a very interesting performance, with the performances of the choir and some of the soloists well worth seeking out, and a Messiah that I hope will soon be available on CD in  remastered sound.


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