Here’s a note from Bob Christiansen on the great Messiah debate.
As the holiday season is winding down, I look at the traditions that I’ve
cobbled together from my childhood and my preferences. Christmas Eve
dinner, an echo of long ago, is a meal where I bring together my Danish,
Swedish and German roots (red cabbage, potato sausage and spaetzele) and
Christmas music, of course, always has to include Handel’s “Messiah”.
It’s the music where things get really interesting because I love the old
Beecham recording (I know, I know, he uses 3 more orchestras and 6 more
choirs than he needs and even the arias can be heard in the Andromeda
Galaxy)! I don’t care. Handel was announcing the birth of the ruler of the
universe, and the Beecham version proclaims that with gusto.
On the other hand, there is the pure, clear, crystalline recording with John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists; night and day. I love them both. I just alternate them from year to year.