HANDEL Messiah / Colin Davis 4785396
A radiant and one-of-a-kind reading that ranks as one of the most desirable records ever made . . . a full 144 minutes (essentially two CDs) in high res audio on one Blu-ray disc makes this a release that simply can't be passed up. The sound is fantastic on each of the three formats . . . There are many people who believe this to be the greatest recording of "Messiah" ever issued, and that's saying a lot as there are so many versions available. Count me among them. If I had to make a desert island pick, this would be the one. It has everything -- great conducting, an unmatched quartet, . . . superb playing and singing by the London SO and chorus, and an interpretation that is subtly ornamented with taste and discretion and excitement. The clarity is outstanding, the power of the chorus unmatched, and the sheer love of the music has never come across with such vibrancy and fervor . . . transcendent. In short, if you love "Messiah" you must know this recording -- and you probably already do -- and this is the format to have it in if you care about the finest presentation of the music. Simply one of the best recordings ever made of anything. Get it.
Colin Davis has made several recordings of "Messiah", but this highly acclaimed 1966 release originally defined his preferred interpretive approach, employing an appropriately scaled, moderate sized chorus and orchestra of modern instruments with tasteful ornamentation. His soloists (especially Heather Harper and Helen Watts) are just about ideal. Everything is as smooth as silk . . . As a modern instruments' "Messiah" performance, this has always ranked with the best.