RECORDINGS

LABEL: MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR
CATALOG NUMBER: 127902
UPC NUMBER: 0783027030921
NUMBER OF DISCS: 3 (2CD+DVD)
RUNNING TIME: 2:23:26
YEAR RECORDED: 2013-15
CD RELEASE DATE: MARCH 4, 2016
CONDUCTOR: MACK WILBERG
ORCHESTRA: ORCHESTRA AT TEMPLE SQUARE
CHOIR: MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR
SOPRANO: SONYA YONCHEVA
MEZZO-SOPRANO: TAMARA MUMFORD
TENOR: ROLANDO VILLAZON
BARITONE: BRYN TERFEL



AUDIO SAMPLES HIGHLIGHTS OTHER RELEASES

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DISC ONE

Part I: Tracks 1 through 22     55:17
Part II: Tracks 23 through 27   21:19

Total Running Time:             1:16:37
DISC TWO

Part II: Tracks 1 through 18     33:04
Part III: Tracks 19 through 27   33:44

Total Running Time               1:06:49

SITE RATING:  8/10
SITE REVIEW:  DISCLAIMER: At this writing, I am a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and participated in the making of this album.

In the long history of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and over the course of three previous recordings of Handel's Messiah, this one is the first which can be described as wholly their own (using their own conductor, orchestra, and hand-picked soloists, and released on their own label), and is, by far, the best, most polished, and most accomplished recording of the work which the organization has ever released.  Dr. Wilberg's preparation of the newly-edited score and painstaking work with the Choir and Orchestra has resulted in a sound that, for better or worse, is NOTHING like "The Mormon Tabernacle Choir" of past Messiahs.  On the plus side, there is a clarity in the singing, very much of the new Baroque tradition, and the articulation, unity, and purity which the choir achieves is startling for a choir of their size.  The Orchestra at Temple Square sounds remarkably baroque, despite playing on modern instruments, with enviable color, precision, and tone.  The soloists too, are world-class, with their operatic backgrounds giving each a strikingly powerful tone and masterful control in their respective arias and melismas.  Bryn Terfel, a frequent collaborator with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, returns here for only his second recorded Messiah - the first being nearly twenty-five years previously, under the baton of Richard Hickox - and sounding far more comfortable and assured here. Sonya Yoncheva is brilliant too, giving a bright, technically masterful reading, with occasionally florid ornamentation which is ear-catching, and occasionally startling - (at times she seems to be re-writing Handel's melody(!))  Equal prowess must be mentioned for famed tenor Rolando Villazon and MET alto Tamara Mumford, each at the very height of their considerable powers.  Dr. Wilberg’s tempos are generally moderate, careful and precise.  To my ears, there is a stylistic disconnect between the strong, operatic milieu of the soloists, and the clean, baroque efforts of the choir and orchestra, and with the bright recorded timbre of the soloists versus the more distant, slushier sound of the choir.  There are two releases of this recording, a single-disc “highlights” and the two-disc “complete” version, containing a third, bonus DVD with interviews with the participants, which is well-worth seeking out.



The Compleat Messiah All Content Copyright © 2016 Bret D. Wheadon
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