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Michael Bailey
Kulture Revolution, May 2007

"George Frederic Handel was a Saxon who became an Englishman to compose Italian Opera, run an opera house, go broke twice, make a third fortune, start a foundation, and end up buried with Kings in Westminster Abbey. I suspect that is how one would define an impresario. The horrible irony about Handel is that in spite of his popularity as a composer in all forms including the concerto grossi, keyboard and solo instrument sonata, choral, opera, and oratorio, Handel is known but for one work. It is in the last category, the oratorio (where opera is musical theater, the oratorio is strictly a concert genera), specifically Messiah for which Handel is remembered. And that is just fine. Save for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Messiah is perhaps the best loved and most performed composition globally. Of 30 performances I personally own, my favorite is the period performance by the Scholars Baroque Ensemble. A stripped-down orchestra and chorus give an amazingly full-bodied performance of the original 1742 composition. The soloists are also part of the chorus, in keeping with the standard practice in Handel's time. This is a superb recording of Messiah, but if inclined, by no means make it your only one to own."

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