More than 270 years after its premiere, Messiah is the most performed oratorio in the English-speaking world. For modern audiences, used to Messiah performed by large choruses and big symphony orchestras, this unique live recording promises to be an ear-opener.
The sound and style of this first-time collaboration by two of Philadelphia’s finest ensembles—a chamber-sized chorus and an orchestra of valveless trumpets, timpani, baroque strings, harpsichord, organ and theorbo—is close to what the composer led at its premiere in Dublin on April 13, 1742.
“The lighter forces of our combined chorus and orchestra will lend the music a crisper, more nimble sound than what the large forces everyone is used to can produce, and still with plenty of power when you need it. Our scale of production is what Handel wrote for. Those grand-scale performances, which I still love, only came about after Handel’s time,” Tempesta’s co-Director Richard Stone remarked.
The conductor-less performance is the normal baroque-style approach for Tempesta’s instrumentalists, but rare for a modern choir. “The idea of the “maestro” on the podium is essentially a 19th century invention,” commented Matthew Glandorf (Choral Arts Philadelphia’s Artistic Director), who plays organ on the recording. However, the chamber-music approach also represents a great advantage “as it opens a whole new way for a choir of listening and reacting to what is going on.”
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Hear a soundclip of Tempesta di Mare performing Handel’s famous Hallelujeh Chorus