Händel "The Messiah"

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Belle
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Händel "The Messiah"

Post by Belle » Thu Oct 24, 2019 5:18 pm

Yesterday our music group was treated to an analysis and historical perspective of this well-known and loved work. I must admit it hasn't been a favourite, but there are some magnificent sections, and this is one cherished by me; God is telling the Prophet to comfort the people:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNjiYj0wAxU

We also heard an 'arrangement' of the 'Overture' by Eugene Goossens, with Beecham conducting, and it was truly terrible.

Our presenter is a fine professional - organist and master of the choristers - and he explained difficulties in the score for singers and musicians. We also learned about the collaboration with Charles Jennens and his work in selecting the texts to be set to music - which Peter said yesterday 'was the work of a genius in that regard'. One thing of note: the composer revised the work several times and may never have heard his latest revision in performance. I observed that this was a 'luxury' unavailable to Beethoven, since after his deafness he wasn't able to hear whether or not something actually worked in performance as he'd intended. I must admit this is something I've pondered for years, knowing how composers revise. Ergo, Beethoven's works composed when he was deaf may very well have been revised if he had ever had the opportunity to hear them in performance. This, of course, was the case with Schubert - many of whose symphonies were unheard by him in performance. There are plenty of similar cases, of course.

Peter knows a lot about the bible, its books and specific texts - particularly the King James version. Afterwards I said to him, "Christianity seems to be taking rather a hiding these days" and his response was, "it always has"!! I admire his religious commitment without it being in the least judgmental, censorious or narrow-minded!! He composes pieces for his own Anglican church services on a fairly regular basis.

It was problematic trying to discuss such a huge work in so limited an amount of time; he said he'd come back next year and talk in more detail about the second half of the work.

John F
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Re: Händel "The Messiah"

Post by John F » Thu Oct 24, 2019 6:15 pm

Beecham's recording of "Messiah" for Decca was an abortive project. He said at the time that he didn't think much of Handel's original, but nobody thinks well of Goossens's arrangement. As far as I know, not even Goossens himself has conducted it.

More enjoyable are Beecham's many suites for orchestra of numbers from the less familiar operas. Some were composed for use as ballets, others for concert performance, and all were orchestrated by Beecham. For example this bourree from "The Faithful Shepherd Suite". Beecham certainly ad an ear for a good tune.

IBXBGmKaGd8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBXBGmKaGd8
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Belle
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Re: Händel "The Messiah"

Post by Belle » Thu Oct 24, 2019 7:43 pm

Your link sounds very like this!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzIJ-Ag0bto

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Re: Händel "The Messiah"

Post by Lance » Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:00 am

Messiah for me is an incredible work. But I think sometimes it is overdone. Every year, our orchestra and chorus give a presentation of the work and it is completely sold out. There are moments I love. But it is kind of like Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, it is overdone, overplayed. If people know nothing else about classical music, they do know the Fifth Symphony. Messiah for me is my second or third favourite oratorio. I would have to put Mendelssohn's Elijan at the top of my list, and if anything, it is underdone. My second favourite would be Haydn's Creation. I'm delighted, of course, there are so many recordings of all three oratorios. Other conductors I know at universities, etc., are doing just the Christmas portion of Messiah this year.
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John F
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Re: Händel "The Messiah"

Post by John F » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:05 am

Part 1 of "Messiah" is made for Christmas, and it's unavoidable during the holiday season. Indeed, every year there are at least one or two sng-along "Messiah" performances in which the audience brings their vocal scores and sngs the choruses. And you can understand why; Handel's choral writng is deeply satisfying to sing, and "Hallelujah" feels great when you belt it out. For some reason "Messiah" is less often performed at Easter, though it's as much about Easter as CHristmas.
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david johnson
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Re: Händel "The Messiah"

Post by david johnson » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:41 am

The Goossens/Beecham Messiah is great fun!!!

barney
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Re: Händel "The Messiah"

Post by barney » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:55 am

Yes, it has become a Christmas staple, though first performed at Easter. I have attended more performances of Messiah than any other single work, I am sure - dozens of live performances. Both Jennens and Handel achieved extraordinary heights, in my view. The only times I have not enjoyed it is when HIP conductors take it at such express pace that the singers cannot breathe. The Mass in B minor might be more perfect, but Messiah reaches the heart differently. It is my favourite religious work.

Belle
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Re: Händel "The Messiah"

Post by Belle » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:22 am

I like these works to go at a fair click with HIP treatment; it enlivens them for me. I do particularly also like this choral section in "The Messiah". I love the ostinatos in the continuo under the choral melismas and the overall complex contrapuntal treatment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iM0Ejb1SX5A

A magnificent composer who could do very little wrong in my book, and a word-painter par excellence (as our presenter pointed out).

maestrob
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Re: Händel "The Messiah"

Post by maestrob » Fri Oct 25, 2019 10:28 am

Handel's Messiah is, I think, my #1 oratorio, having sung it approximately 50 times in Philharmonic/Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall with David Randolph. Randolph had a special way with the music in the 1970's when HIP was first getting started. He would double-dot the eighth notes, turning them into sixteenths, all while he elicited transparent sounds from the 150-member choir. We invariably received standing ovations: I still remember the critic Gene Shalit waving enthusiastically from the balcony each year. Sadly, no commercial recording was ever issued. Those years will always remain golden in my memory. The enthusiasm of the audiences!

That said, I do think Bach's B minor Mass is the greater piece: it certainly takes more preparation than Messiah (I managed to memorize both.). We started rehearsals for a Spring concert in October while rehearsing a repeat performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio in Carnegie Hall. Both are great works, but I was glad to have the extra time to work on the B minor.

Such great music stays with you for a lifetime.

Belle
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Re: Händel "The Messiah"

Post by Belle » Fri Oct 25, 2019 4:19 pm

Well, that's certainly very true - and thank god for that!! It's a pleasure reading about your musical experiences and it adds to our understanding of interpretation and performance. I agree about the Bach B Minor Mass. When I listen to it on CD I try to make it a musical 'occasion' and give it my full attention.

My husband has never been a music-lover. Our family have joked for years about him not knowing the difference between Bach and Buddy Holly. During our year-long stay in Vienna in 2011 when he had little access to English he read part 1 of the biographical trilogy of Liszt by Walker. When we returned home I ordered the other 2 from Amazon and he soon ate them up - developing a love and admiration for Liszt, the man, and something of an appreciation of his musical intellect. But while my spouse could finally sit through a duo-piano recital of Liszt's music in Vienna, he could at any time enjoy "The Messiah". There's something very accessible about that oratorio that I don't think is a feature of the B Minor Mass. Whilst I could 'enjoy' the first work as and when necessary, not going out of my way to hear it, I just couldn't be without the Bach under any circumstances.

Over recent years my husband has started listening to me talking about music, instead of always being busy with children and work. (A captive audience!!) And there's something more important than that which has led to an understanding (let's say); the love of music in others in the public sphere - and who can speak and write about music with power and eloquence. These things have far more impact on my husband than anything I've ever said or done!! As one very small example, when a former PM of our country talks about music and Mahler in particular my husband sits up and takes notice (when he's ready to ignore almost everything else this man says).

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