Akademisk Orchestra, Georg Frideric Handel: Messiah

Steve Holtje

By Steve Holtje

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Handel (1685-1759) came up in his native Germany as an organist, gained fame writing operas in Italy, then moved to England and made Italian operas the rage of London. When they fell from favor, he switched to oratorios. The most popular of these by far (indeed, the most-performed major choral work), Messiah, doesn't tell a story so much as ponder and celebrate the conditions and consequences of Christian belief, using a great variety of musical moods in high Baroque styles.

Deep, moving, reverential

This Copenhagen performing group was founded in 1935, and its amateur choir is as good as most professionals he orchestra (using modern instruments) is a mix of amateurs and pros, and the four satisfying vocal soloists all seem to be pros. This church concert recording, offering an honest sonic perspective with no unrealistic spot-micing, contains no weak links beyond a few trumpet clams. Somewhat informed by "period performance" ornamentation, it's a thoroughly enjoyable, reverential listening experience.