Superb, visually as well as audially
Charles Buschman | Roan Mountain, TN | 05/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Classical music concert DVDs keep getting better, and I keep getting more insistant on absolutely optimal visual as well as audial quality. This DVD is to date the absolute best visually. Its audial impact is superb both in terms of performance and sound quality. The lighting of the choristers is stunning, or, perhaps I should say, heavenly. You cannot know how important lighting is until you have seen the very best, which this is.
Visually, there was only one distraction. The soprano soloist, and, even more so, the bass, looked at their scores far too often. Come on, this is the Messiah, boys and girls -- hasn't just about everyone sung it?
Musically, the conductor made all the right choices except for one, the use of valveless "natural" trumpets. No sane person can doubt that Handel would have used valved trumpets if they were available. The trumpeters' skill made up somewhat for this mistake, but they really blew the muscially critical quick five scalar note trumpet descent form high G after the first "Lord of Lords" in "Hallelujah". Yes, I have become spolied enough to demand uninterrupted excellence, and the excellence of this performance was virtually uninterrupted except for this boo-boo and a strange ommission from "Why Do the Nations" (an electronic deletion of an error by the soloist?).
Audience coughing, always annoying, was well suppressed, I guess elecgtronically. The dramatic pause at the close of the "Amen" was coughless. But audience coughing ought to be totally suppressed.
I used not to think that a boys' choir could handle the high parts of big-sounding numbers like the Messiah choruses. The key here was the use of counter-tenors for the alto parts, allowing all 20 or so boys to sing soprano. Nothing was lacking. I also loved how enthusiastic the boys seemed to be. Adults cannot show such enthusiasm without its seeming fake."
The best Messiah to appear...
The Music Man | United States | 01/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Brilliant Classics, the label behind the mammoth "complete" box sets for Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, has a track record of releasing hit-and-miss performances from various orchestras and choirs, and I've listened to several of their Handel Oratorios, some of which are pretty bad; but in the case of this DVD performance of Messiah, I don't believe it can be bettered. The performance, conducted by Stephen Cleobury, and featuring the King's College Choir, as well as the Brandenburg Consort who play on period instruments, is stunning. The soloists are fantastic, with John Mark Ainsley giving a stunningly adept performance on the tenor solos. But I have a hard time finding any serious fault in this DVD - it's a bright, exceptionally clean performance, full of life and robust tempos - it's become my favorite Messiah on either DVD or CD. Which is even more surprising to me, since this performance was filmed live in a candle-lit cathedral in Sweden - yet the audience is scarcely noticable, and the live setting brings out the best in all involved. The camera work is also excellent, a vast improvement over the Christopher Hogwood DVD, which was filmed twenty-years earlier. This is a warm, lively Messiah, and well worth checking out."