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Robert Shaw Chorale: Handel Messiah

Directed by Robert Shaw

Recorded in 1966, Robert Shaw's Grammy Award-winning performance of Handel's Messiah marks an important turning-point in this work's interpretation, clearly moving away from the ponderous, overly reverential style of early twentieth century renditions and pointing toward the leaner versions of the 1970s onwards, which follow Baroque-period practices. Shaw employed a small orchestra that complemented the vocal soloists with a light, transparent string sound -- complete with an audible continuo of harpsichord and cello -- and he eschewed reinforcing wind parts in all but the choruses. Ornamentation is cleanly and tastefully applied, and Shaw's tempi are usually brisk and propulsive, with sparing use of ritardandi; even then, there is always a firm rhythmic thrust to his cadences. Soprano Judith Raskin, contralto Florence Kopleff, tenor Richard Lewis, and bass Thomas Paul are equally matched in expressive depth and vocal strength, and the Robert Shaw Chorale and Orchestra is consistently motivated and responsive to the conductor's fluid direction. The listener may regret that the ADD sound is a little weak, but the tape hiss has been minimized in the remastering and is fairly easy to ignore. Evenly divided between two discs, this recording of Messiah is complete, and it is preferred over RCA's 1992 excerpt album The Great Choruses from Messiah.

Item code: 7994C | 2 CDs | $18.95 |add item to cart
Choral | Accompanied | Mixed | United States
82876623172-4 | 82876623172

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