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Religious Music Review

Messiah "A Sacred Oratorio"

Composer: Georg Friederich Handel (1685-1759)
Performer: London Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra
Originally Composed: London 1741-2
First Performed: Dublin 1742
Personal Audio Version Recorded: May 11-22, 1965

Performer’s History: German-born composer second only to J. S. Bach as the leading composer of the High Baroque era. His concertos and sonatas show exceptional melodic gifts, and his contribution to the development of modern oratorios and operas is significant. Handel was born in Halle (Germany), on February 23rd, 1685, just a month before J. S. Bach was born and died in 1759.

Work Notes: Handel composed Messiah in approximately three weeks in August and September 1741. It is an oratorio of arias, recitatives, and choruses without the usual narrative of other oratorios. It is more choral than other oratorios—the choir plays a major role in this work. The text is a juxtaposition of passages from both the Old and New Testament as assembled by Charles Jennens, a poet and wealthy patron of the arts. Messiah is in three parts: part one brings various texts concerning Advent and Christmas, revealing the expectation of the birth of the Saviour, and his actual coming; part two deals with His Passion in a contemplative kind of way, ending with the triumphant Resurrection, and the Hallelujah chorus; part three deals with the resurrection and extends it to all mankind, ending with the Amen chorus. Handel rarely performed Messiah in the same way twice. He made changes at almost every new performance to suit a new singer.

My personal favorite from this piece is “Worthy is the Lamb” which incidentally I still fell asleep for when I saw it performed at Hill Auditorium during my time at the University of Michigan. Also it was used most effectively in one of my favorite animes of all time, Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Tracks Listing:

Disc: 1

1. Messiah: Overture Listen
2. Messiah: Recit - 'Comfort Ye'
3. Messiah: Air - 'Every Valley'
4. Messiah: Chorus - 'And The Glory Of The Lord Shall Be Revealed'
5. Messiah: Recit - 'Thus Saith The Lord'
6. Messiah: Air - 'But Who May Abide The Day Of His Coming'
7. Messiah: Chorus - 'And He Shall Purify'
8. Messiah: Recit - 'Behold! A Virgin Shall Conceive'
9. Messiah: Air - 'O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings To Zion'
10. Messiah: Recit - 'For Behold, Darkness Shall Cover The Earth'
11. Messiah: Air - 'The People That Walked In Darkness'
12. Messiah: Chorus - 'For Unto Us A Child Is Born'
13. Messiah: Pifa (Pastoral Symphony)
14. Messiah: Recit - 'There Were Shepherds Abiding In The Field'
15. Messiah: Recit - 'And Low The Angel'
16. Messiah: Recit - 'And The Angel Said Unto Them'
17. Messiah: Recit - 'For Unto You'
18. Messiah: Recit - 'And Suddenly There Was With The Angel'
19. Messiah: Chorus - 'Glory To God'
20. Messiah: Air - 'Rejoice Greatly O Daughter Of Zion'
21. Messiah: Recit - 'Then Shall The Eyes Of The Blind Be Open'd'
22. Messiah: Air - He Shall Feed His Flock Like A Shepherd'
23. Messiah: Chorus - 'His Yoke Is Easy'
24. Messiah: Part II: Chorus - 'Behold The Lamb of God'

Disc: 2

1. Messiah: Part II: Air - 'He Was Despised'
2. Messiah: Part II: Chorus - 'Surely He Haith Borne Our Griefs'
3. Messiah: Part II: Chorus - 'All We, Like Sheep Have Gone Astray'
4. Messiah: Part II: Recit - 'All That They See Him To Scorn'
5. Messiah: Part II: Chorus - 'He Trusted In God That He Would Deliver Him'
6. Messiah: Part II: Recit - 'Thy Rebuke Hath Broken His Heart'
7. Messiah: Part II: Air - 'Behold And See If There Be Any Sorrow'
8. Messiah: Part II: Recit - 'He Was Cut Off Out Of The Land Of The Living'
9. Messiah: Part II: Air - 'But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul In Hell'
10. Messiah: Part II: Chorus - 'Who Is The King Of Glory'
11. Messiah: Part II: Chorus - 'The Lord Gave The Word'
12. Messiah: Part II: Air - 'How Beautiful Are The Feet Of Them'
13. Messiah: Part II: Chorus - 'Their Sound Is Gone Out Into All Lands'
14. Messiah: Part II: Air - 'Why Do The Nations So Furiously Rage'
15. Messiah: Part II: Chorus - 'Let Us Break Their Bonds Asunder'
16. Messiah: Part II: Recit - 'He That Dwelleth In Heaven'
17. Messiah: Part II: Air - 'Thou Shalt Break Them'
18. Messiah: Part II: Chorus - 'Hallelujah!'
19. Messiah: Part III: Air - 'I Know That My Redeemer Liveth'
20. Messiah: Part III: Chorus - 'Since By Man Came Death'
21. Messiah: Part III: Recit - 'Behold, I Tell You A Mystery'
22. Messiah: Part III: Air - 'The Trumpet Shall Sound'
23. Messiah: Part III: Chorus - 'Worthy Is The Lamb'
24. Messiah: Part III: Chorus - 'Amen'

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