Not the usual ‘Messiah’

“Traditional” (English-churchy) renditions of “Messiah” obscure a quality that George Frideric Handel could not have underplayed, even if he had intended to. Handel was a man of the theater. And while this is not music-theater but a sacred oratorio, whose text is more contemplative than narrative, the vocal solos and choruses, the orchestration and pacing of the music, resonate from the stage, not the altar.

The theatricality – and fervor – of “Messiah” come through in this dramatically inflected, brilliantly sung, altogether exilharating performance by the chorus and orchestra of the Czech early music ensemble Collegium 1704, led by Václav Luks, with soprano Hana Blažíková, alto Delphine Galou, tenor Markus Brutscher and bass Marián Krejčík, recorded in 2011 at the Saint-Robert Abbey in La Chaise-Dieu, France:

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