Magazine article Gramophone

Handel: Messiah, HWV56

Magazine article Gramophone

Handel: Messiah, HWV56

Article excerpt

Handel Messiah, HWV56 Julia Doyle sop Lawrence Zazzo counterten Steve Davislim ten Neal Davies bass-bar Bavarian Radio Chorus; B'Rock / Peter Dijkstra BR-Klassik [F] [2] 900 510 (136' * DDD * T) Recorded live at the Herkulessaal, Munich, November 21-27,2014

JS Bach Weihnachtsoratorium, BWV248 Rachel Harnisch, Sonja Philippin sops Anke Vondung mez Maximilian Schmitt ten Christian Immler bass Bavarian Radio Chorus; Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin / Peter Dijkstra BR-Klassik [F] [2] 900512 (144' * DDD * T) Recorded live at the Herkulessaal, Munich, December 11 & 12,2010

In the last few years the Bavarian Radio Choir and its conductor Peter Dijkstra has notched up a selective discography of impressive live recordings of major Baroque choral masterworks, always with acclaimed period-instrument guest orchestras and top-notch soloists. This new Messiah was recorded at several concerts in Munich in November 2014. Dijkstra prefers a traditional four-soloist version, featuring all the best music from numerous alternative variants, and his dependable direction combines many elements of historically informed performance practice with the best traditional choral qualities of contrapuntal flexibility and pious dignity. Organ is overused in arias (Handel probably reserved it for the choruses), but it often imparts a sense of solemn dignity without tempi actually dragging. Paradoxically, crisp harpsichord is often prominent in choruses. The Belgian orchestra B'Rock tone down the eccentricities evident in some of their previous Handel recordings under different leadership.

The Bavarian Radio Choir's spotless English, dramatic intensity in powerful minor-key statements ('Surely he hath borne our griefs'), polished shaping of lightly tripping fugal choruses ('His yoke is easy'), and fulsome sonorities in the grand conclusions to Parts 2 and 3 (the splendid account of 'Hallelujah' features horns doubling an octave below the trumpets) make them a match for any number of top-notch British specialist choirs. …

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