Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Handel - Messiah / Brown Kallisch Sacca Miles Rilling Bach-Collegium Stuttgart|
Actors: Helmuth Rilling, Alistair Miles, Roberto Sacca
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
During the first London performance King George II is said to have been so moved by the "Hallelujah" chorus, that he rose from his seat, and the rest of the audience with him. The Messiah, Handel?s best-known oratorio, is ... more »
Mozart's Arrangement of 'Messiah,' Sung in German
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 02/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is actually titled, correctly, 'Der Messias,' as this is a performance sung in German of Mozart's 1789 arrangement of the work. Between 1788 and 1790, Mozart's sometime patron Baron van Swieten contributed to Mozart's welfare by having him arrange for private performance several works by Handel, including Acis and Galatea (K566, November 1788), Messiah (K572, March 1789) and Alexander's Feast and the Ode for St Cecilia's Day (K591 and 592, both July 1790). For 'Messiah' Mozart added winds and percussion and composed new inner voices in places, enough that this work has its own designation, as noted above, in the Köchel catalog. I am old enough to have heard this arrangement in live performance but in the last thirty years there have been very few performances of it as the tide of musical taste has dictated a return to Handel's original orchestration and arrangement of the numbers (although, as many people know, there are questions even yet as to what should be considered Handel's final thoughts about some of the individual numbers; at least one number in the oratorio had seven different arrangements from Handel's own hand!). Still, if one wants to see and hear Mozart's arrangement one would certainly need go no further than this DVD. Helmut Rilling and his Bach-Collegium and Kantorei of Stuttgart are old hands at this sort of music. The Bach-Collegium is a modern-instrument group who nonetheless play using some of the historically-informed performance practice from the baroque and classical eras. The Kantorei, a forty-voice group that has recorded all of the Bach cantatas, is well-versed in baroque vocal music. The four soloists--the Canadian soprano Donna Brown, German mezzo Cornelia Kallisch, Italian tenor Roberto Saccà, and British basso Alastair Miles--acquit themselves admirably. I was particularly impressed with young Signor Saccà whose light tenor falls sweetly on the ear.
One more versed than I could tell you the differences between this version of 'Messiah' and the one we generally hear. The most noticeable, of course, is the use of a German text. 'Messiah' was set to King James Version biblical verses chosen and arranged by Charles Jennens, and it is in English that most people reading this review will know the work. It is a bit unsettling to hear 'Every valley' as 'Alle Tale,' and 'Glory to God in the Highest!' as 'Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe!,' for example. It also seems strange to hear the male chorus's 'And peace on Earth' intoned to martial timpani or to hear clarinets tootling countermelodies. One other oddity that I noticed is that 'For unto us' ('Uns ist zum Heil ein Kind geboren') is arranged as a solo vocal quartet rather than sung by the whole chorus who come in only at the end at 'Wonderful, Counselor.'
Although it is not stated anywhere in the DVD's booklet or case, I discovered by going to ArtHaus's website that this is a performance from 1991. It was filmed in the small baroque Stadtkirche in the Palatinate city of Ellwangen. Sound is reasonably good, videography is a bit frenetic at times, sometimes cutting away from soloists for no obvious reason. This is not really objectionable but it does get one's attention. Also, opening and closing credits are scrolled for each of the oratorio's three parts; one suspects this DVD was put together from three separate TV presentations, one for each part.
The bottom line on this release is this: If you are interested in hearing Mozart's arrangement of 'Messiah,' or if you are a big fan of Rilling's performances of baroque music, then this one might be for you. Otherwise, be warned and read the fine print: This is not the usual 'Messiah.'