|Comp.||George Frederick Handel|
|Title||Rejoice greatly (Messiah)|
|Performers||Handel Society of London (choir and orchestra)
Mattiwilda Dobbs (soprano)
Walter Goehr (cond)
|Publisher||Guilde Internationale du Disque|
|Record no.||SMS 2153|
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270 years ago this Advent, Handel was in Dublin, holding a series of concerts there. He took with him his newly-composed score for Messiah (much to the dismay of the librettist Charles Jennens who had hoped that the work would be first performed in London) and it was premiered there on 13 April the following year.
Because the performers Handel had available in Dublin were not those that he had in London, the score he prepared for this performance was fairly different from his original thoughts. By the time the work was performed in London, available performers were different again, entailing a different re-write. Over the years there were many different revisions and re-workings. In 1745, today's aria ("Rejoice Greatly") was shortened. By the time Messiah was finally published, after Handel's death, the published edition had very many manuscripts to choose between. Over the course of the following two-and-a-half centuries, other editors and composers felt free to update or "improve" the original. Mozart completely re-orchestrated the work to bring it up to date with current taste. By the early 20th century, it had become fashionable to perform the work with vast Romantic symphony orchestras and massed choirs.
With this in mind it's almost amusing that a very reputable and scholarly music press is currently advertising a facsimile of "the original manuscript" of Messiah. Which one?, we might ask. What, then, can we call a "proper" performance? Which version should we use? And should we try to perform the work like Handel would have done or like people today would expect to hear it?
Those are questions you'll have to answer for yourself - perhaps by browsing through some of the many recordings of the work that we have here at the Institute of Recorded Sound.
Last update: 19.12.2011 20:41. Webmaster
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