Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Handel - Messiah / Emma Kirkby Judith Nelson Carolyn Watkinson Paul Elliott David Thomas Christopher Hogwood Academy of Ancient Music Choir of Westminster Abbey|
Actors: Christopher Hogwood, Emma Kirkby
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Studio: Kultur Release Date: 09/27/2005
Excellent DVD, original sound, instruments; nice soloists,
Pablo Gomez | Santiago, Dominican Republic | 01/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This concert was perform by experts. All soloists, the chorus and the orchestra are all profetionals. Haendel deserves that kind of performers.
For that genious took 25 days to write this beatiful masterpiece.
The instruments have the same style of the Haendel's time. The oboes are all in wood, there is no metal in those instruments. The trumpets have no valves neither keys, those trumpets have holes to play in the same way of 3 or 4 centuries ago (I am a trumpetist and I never had seen those kind of ?piccolo? trumpets). The total orchestra plays the same sound as Haendel's time.
With the sound, it is Dolby 2.0 (is more than enought because it is not a movie with special effects, etc). I consider it has a very good and clear sound.
About the language, it says is in italian; but Haendel was from England and wrote that masterpiece in English, so the English is the original language for it.
Camera effects? I consider is not exceptional, but good. This DVD doesn't deserve a negative feedback because of that; and I am not a filmmaker, to see all those minor details.
I recommend this product if you like the barroque and that kind of music.
Santiago, Dominican Republic"
Great Performance, Acceptable Videography
A. B. Crockett | Colorado USA | 01/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I rented VHS tapes of this peformance every Christmas and Easter for a few years following its release in 1982. I contemplated buying it, but renting was so cheap and easy. Then, I switched entirely to DVD technology, but the video store didn't have it in that format, so I went many years without viewing it until I purchased the DVD for this Christmas just past. Wow. It's even better than I remember.
First, the videography: I remember being a little frustrated at the shot selection by the cameramen -- lots of statues and stained glass windows, lots of close-ups of soloists and instrumentalists (often just the hands of the latter), and very few shots of the entire ensemble. I almost didn't buy it after reviewing the various negative critiques of the videography. That would have been a big mistake. It's not nearly as annoying as I recall or read in Amazon, which almost makes me wonder if this re-release includes a trip to the videotape vaults by the compilers. Still some strange things -- particularly the poor coverage of the spectacular trumpetry in "The Trumpet Shall Sound," the way-too-few shots of the entire instrumental ensemble or even groups thereof (e.g., the cellos, basses, and keyboards never got ANY coverage), and the protracted and extreme close-up headshots of vocal soloists who, while nice enough looking, aren't movie stars and have various little blemishes and tooth issues that you would ignore in a concert or even while talking to them, but which are hard to miss "up close and personal." I kept hoping for the camera to pull back more, which it seldom did. The WORST camera work was a rather long shot of the male altos, waiting patiently for their entry into the chorus, that ended abruptly just as the altos took a breath and were about to chime in. Crazy.
Now to the real reason to buy this performance, whether on DVD or CD. It has to be the best Messiah out there. I've heard most of the major-label versions, whether in full length or as excerpts, and this one gets it just right. The pacing is perfect throughout ("He Was Despised" may have dragged a little, but the singing of Carolyn Watkinson was so beautiful and deeply moving that it didn't matter.) The small instrumental group was clear and crisp, as was the chorus with 4 each of male altos, tenors, and basses, and 16 (by my count) boy trebles. The few good shots of the violins revealed the presence of such recognizable superstars as Simon Standage and Monica Huggettt. As usual, they keyboard playing, by the incomparable Simon Preston, was lost in the resonance of the violins, despite the small ensemble.
I really enjoyed the boy trebles. Aside from one kid with a discernible head bob in time with the music, they acquitted themselves very well, and the sheer beauty of their high passages surpasses any adult-female soparano section I've heard. I detected none of the breathiness mentioned by one reviewer.
Now to the soloists: Awesome. Emma Kirkby's pieces are as bright and beautiful as any on CD/DVD, and Judith Nelson is also quite good as the other soprano. Her voice is richer than Ms. Kirkby's, but still light and with the modest vibrato that characterizes many recordings with "original instrument" groups such as the Academy of Ancient Music. I would describe her voice as similar to two other Baroque specialists, Felicity Lott and Felicity Palmer. It was very nice having two women share the soprano work, adding a nice bit of additional variety. Relatively light sound also describes the tenor, Paul Elliott, and the bass (more like a low baritone), David Thomas. While I might prefer another tenor, such as Ian Partridge or Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, both of whom have more depth to their tone, Paul Elliott is generally a good fit for Baroque oratorias and certainly gives us little to complain about. I really liked the lighter voice of David Thomas compared to the booming basses with mushy diction that are becoming increasingly used in the Baroque repertoir. I think that trend is a mistake, especially when it makes the bass sound totally different (in timbre, not just pitch) from the other soloists. Finally, I have to repeat how beautiful the contralto, Carolyn Watkinson, sings her sections. While "light" isn't a word that pops into mind when describing her voice, it still has the clarity, good diction, and modest vibrato needed to work well with the other soloists. Like the bass parts, too many recordings have a contralto part that sounds far too operatic. I want to hear more of her and am going to seek out other recordings.
Regarding the taping, the performance is compiled as if it's a straight-through performance. Of course, such wasn't the case, as evidenced by different dresses worn for different arias by Ms. Kirkby and Ms. Nelson, I believe a different dress worn by one violist, and slightly different positionings of the choristers. Also, the chorus and soloists were sometimes shot standing in another part of Westminster Abbey. I assume that this was done for variety, and it worked well.
Bottom line: Buy this DVD, or at least the CD version. You'll probably find the videography to be acceptable, and the singing is simply without equal. Other quibbles -- too few tracks, making it hard to repeat or skip certain passages, and no historical information such as is provided in the liner notes of the CD version -- are also too minor to detract significantly from this release. Oh yes, I want to mention that the Dolby 2.0 sound is fine. Regarding the note on the box that the performance is in Italian, I assume that it reflects a "cut-and-paste from some Italian opera. While it indicates sheer incompetence on the part of someone, luckily that person had nothing to do with the stuff inside the box. It's magical.
PS. Now that I own this thing, I plan on watching/hearing it a lot more often than just the two major Christian holidays!
Wonderful Performance, Poor Videography...
D. Troyer | Cleveland, NC | 01/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...I hadn't had a chance to preview this performance, something I like to do before buying, but was quite pleased with what I got. The graphics look at least as old as they are, maybe older, but the music is incredible, in spite of the challenges of recording live in a cathedral in 1982. The Baroque style solos took the cake. I was accustomed to 20th century exaggerated vibrato (by less than professional soloists) that leaves you wondering about the actual key of the music being performed. I love this recording in spite of its age and criticisms... It's awesome to hear this kind of performance of a classical piece that speaks of the greatest Subject of all time and eternity. The Messiah!"