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Record title: Handel Messiah - Somary, Price, Minton, Young, Diaz
Record label: Vanguard / VANGUARD VCS 10090/1/2 Stereo
Medium: LP
Year recorded: 1970

Performer(s):
Alexander Young (Tenor),
Justino Diaz (Bass),
Colin Tilney (Harpsichord),
Margaret Price (Soprano),
Yvonne Minton (Mezzo Soprano),
Philip Jones, solo trumpet,
Colin Tilney, harpsichord & organ
Conductor(s):
Johannes Somary
Orchestra(s):
English Chamber Orchestra
Amor Artis Chorale (John McCarthy, chorus master)
Composer(s):
Handel
Track listing:

Comment:
Date of Recording: 07/1970, Wembley Town Hall, London

Also on
- Vanguard VSQ-30003/4/5 (SQ) [3 LP]

*Winner, Stereo Review Record of the Year Award

While Johannes Somary's 1970 Vanguard recording of Handel's Messiah provides an early example of authentic period re-creation -- it is a complete performance of the 1966 Watkins Shaw edition, with pared-down choral and orchestral forces, appropriate ornamentation, and a continuo alternating between harpsichord and organ -- it sounds a little stilted and awkward by contemporary standards. The rhythms have more than enough snap, and Somary's tempos are respectably brisk, but the Amor Artis Chorale and the English Chamber Orchestra seem a bit stiff in what was for the time a new way of playing Baroque music, and some uncertainty is detectable in the solo singing. Tenor Alexander Young and bass Justino Diaz both attempt some decorative improvisation in their arias, but their discomfort is apparent in the dubious intonation; and while soprano Margaret Price and contralto Yvonne Minton are better with hitting the right pitches, they are nonetheless a little unclear in their embellishments. Even so, this is a spirited performance with a dramatic emphasis: the contrasts of mood are strong, the singers have believable presence, and their energy is unflagging, even in some of the numbers that are usually omitted in conventional performances. Over the years, Somary's interpretation has been surpassed by other historically informed recordings with better technical and expressive qualities and superior sound quality; yet for all its small flaws, this budget reissue is quite listenable and worth considering if other period Messiahs are unavailable. The sound is quite variable in volume and direction, so this recording is best heard at a fairly high volume setting. ~ Blair Sanderson, All Music Guide

Reissued on CD


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