Handel: The Messiah

Composer Georg Frideric Handel
Artist Lynne Dawson soprano
John Mark Ainsley tenor
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Brandenburg Consort
Stephen Cleobury conductor
Format 2 CD
Cat. number 93948
EAN code 5028421939483
Release July 2009

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About this release

The Messiah was written at great speed by Handel during the winter of 1741–2, and was received to great acclaim its first performance in Dublin in 1742. Charles Jennens compiled the text from the Bible, and the work is cast in three sections. Although a success in Dublin, the work had a less than warm welcome when it was performed in London without its title, and called ‘a New Sacred Oratorio’ to avoid causing offence to the rather puritanical British public and press. This ruse failed however, and the press were hostile. Jennens and Handel also fell out, as Jennens felt that the composer hadn’t taken enough time and care over the music! This was a low point for Handel, and he seriously contemplated leaving the UK and returning to Germany. Eventually, after a few years, and after a series of performances for charitable causes, the work became a firm favourite. It has been linked ever since with the composer’s generous charitable donations to the Foundling Hospital, of which he was a director along with William Hogarth and Thomas Coram.

Messiah is the masterpiece of the English Baroque, and for 200 years has been performed by both professional and amateur choirs around the world. Handel’s gift for truly memorable tunes and (notwithstanding Jennens’s concerns) the care he took in setting the text have ensured that it has remained one of the most famous works ever composed.

Other information:
- "John Mark Ainsley sings with remarkable spiritedness throughout, exhibiting an accomplishment and beauty of his articulation in his early numbers which afford constant repetition" (Gramophone).
- Booklet notes and sung texts included.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Sinfonia
  2. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Recitative (Tenor) Comfort Ye My People
  3. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Air (Tenor): Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted
  4. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Chorus: And The Glory Of The Lord Shall Be Revealed
  5. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Recitative (Bass): Thus Saith The Lord Of Hosts
  6. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Air (Bass): But Who May Abide The Day Of His Coming?
  7. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Chorus: And He Shall Purify
  8. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Recitative (Alto): Behold , A virgin Shall ConceIVe
  9. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Air (Alto) & Chorus: O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion
  10. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Recitative (Bass): For Behold, Darkness Shall Cover The Earth
  11. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Air (Bass): The People That Walked in Darkness
  12. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Chorus: For Unto Us A Child Is Born
  13. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Pifa (Pastoral Symphony)
  14. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Recitative (Soprano): There Were Shepherds
  15. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Recitative (Soprano): And The Agel Said Unto Them
  16. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Recitative (Soprano): And Suddenly There Was With The Angel
  17. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Chorus: Glory To God in The Highest
  18. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Air (Soprano): Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter Of Zion
  19. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Recitative (Alto): Then Shall The Eyes Of The Blind Be Open’d
  20. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Duet (Alto & Soprano): He Shall Feed His Flock Like A Shepherd
  21. Messiah, HWV 56, Part I: Chorus: His Yoke Is Easy, His Burthen Is Light
  22. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: Behold The Lamb Of God
  23. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Air (Alto): He Was Despised

Disk 2

  1. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs
  2. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: And With His Stripes We Are Healed
  3. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray
  4. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Recitative (Tenor): All They That See Him , Laugh Him To Scorn
  5. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: He Trusted in God
  6. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Recitative (Tenor): Thy Rebuke Hart Broken His Heart
  7. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Air (Tenor): Behold, And See If There Be Any Sorrow
  8. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Recitative (Tenor): He Was Cut Off Out Of The Land Of The LIving
  9. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Air (Tenor): But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul in Hell
  10. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates
  11. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Recitative (Tenor): Unto Which Of The Angels
  12. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: Let All The Angels Of God Worship Him
  13. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Air (Bass): Thou Art Gone Up On High
  14. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: The Lord Gave The Word
  15. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Air (Soprano): How Beautiful Are The Feet
  16. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: Their Sound Is Gone Out Into All Lands
  17. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Air (Bass): Why Do The Nations So Furiously Rage Together?
  18. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: Let Us Break Their Bonds Asunder
  19. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Recitative (Tenor): He That Dwelleth in Heaven
  20. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Air (Tenor): Thou Shalt Break Them
  21. Messiah, HWV 56, Part II: Chorus: Hallelujah!
  22. Messiah, HWV 56, Part III: Air (Soprano): I Know That My Redeemer LIVeth
  23. Messiah, HWV 56, Part III: Chorus: Since By Man Came Death
  24. Messiah, HWV 56, Part III: Recitative (Bass): Behold, I Tell You A Mystery
  25. Messiah, HWV 56, Part III: Air (Bass): The Trumpet Shall Sound
  26. Messiah, HWV 56, Part III: Recitative (Alto): Then Shall Be Brought To Pass The Saying
  27. Messiah, HWV 56, Part III: Duet (Alto & Tenor): O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?
  28. Messiah, HWV 56, Part III: Chorus: But Thanks Be To God
  29. Messiah, HWV 56, Part III: Air (Soprano): If God Be For Us
  30. Messiah, HWV 56, Part III: Chorus: Worthy Is The Lamb That Was Slain...Amen