Handel - Messiah (2003) [DVD9 NTSC]
# Actors: Sylvia McNair, Anne Sofie von Otter, Michael Chance (II), Jerry Hadley, Robert Lloyd
# Directors: Barrie Gavin, Tony Boland
# Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, PAL
# Language English
# Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
# Number of discs: 1
# Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
# DVD Release Date: 13 Oct 2003
# Run Time: 286 minutes
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Sir Neville Marriner conducts this 250th Anniversary performance. Soloists include Sylvia McNair, Anne Sofie Van Otter. The performance is supported by an informative background film "For Ever and Ever", explaining the circumstances behind the composition and the work's early impact, featuring contributions from the popular Handel scholar Professor H.C. Robbins Land and from Sir Neville Marriner himself.
Recorded in 1992, this performance of Handel's awesome "Messiah" took place on the 250th anniversary of the initial rendition of the piece. Recorded at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, this is an especially poignant rendition as it takes place in the city where it was originally performed in 1742.
Messiah (HWV 56) is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742, and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.
Handel's reputation in England, where he had lived since 1713, had been established through his compositions of Italian opera. He turned to English oratorio in the 1730s, in response to changes in public taste; Messiah was his sixth work in this genre. Although its structure resembles that of conventional opera, it is not in dramatic form; there are no impersonations of characters and very little direct speech. Instead, Jennens's text is an extended reflection on Jesus Christ as Messiah, moving from the prophetic phrases of Isaiah and others, through the Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection of Christ to his ultimate glorification in heaven.
Handel wrote Messiah for modest vocal and instrumental forces, with optional settings for many of the individual numbers. In the years after his death the work was adapted for performance on a much larger scale, with giant orchestras and choirs. In other efforts to update it, its orchestration was revised and amplified by (among others) Mozart. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the trend has been towards authenticity; most contemporary performances show a greater fidelity towards Handel's original intentions, although "big Messiah" productions continue to be mounted. Since a near-complete version was issued on 78 rpm discs in 1928, the work has been recorded many times.
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