BOOKS

TITLE: MESSIAH: A STUDY IN INTERPRETATION
AUTHOR: PERCY M. YOUNG
PUBLISHER: DENNIS DOBSON LTD.
ISBN (HARDCOVER): N/A
ISBN (PAPERBACK): N/A
UPC/EAN: N/A
LCCN: N/A
YEAR: 1951
SERIES: THE STUDENT'S MUSIC LIBRARY
PAGES: 72 P.
PUB. LOCATION: LONDON
DDC: N/A
EXCERPT: CLICK HERE FOR SAMPLE PAGE (.PDF)


DESCRIPTION:  Dr Percy M. Young, acknowledged by the Radio Times as "one of the foremost authorities on Handel at the present time", gives in this book his conclusions on the interpretation of Messiah.  Scholarship and practical experience combine to produce an indispensable work, characterized by the author's familiar forthright and imaginative style.  "I have heard many a Messiah from Albert Hall to small nonconformist chapel; but never one which, in such total of truth and beauty, could be placed in the same class as this."  Thus the Birmingham Post summarized Dr Young's own interpretation of Handel's most loved oratorio.  It is no exaggeration, therefore, to describe this as an authoritative work.

SITE RATING:  6/10
SITE REVIEW:  Having been written during the heyday of behemoth Messiah forces, I was fully expecting this 1951 tract by Dr. Percy M. Young, part of a series of small books written about different composers, to be along those lines; a defense of the full, florid readings which were evident in Beecham's, Sargent's, and Scherchen's contemporary recordings.  But to my surprise, Dr. Young rails against these practices, forcefully arguing that Messiah's "delicacy" is overrun by "its trombones, its organ reeds, and the rest of the conventional addenda."  In fact, he appears to point directly at Beecham, stating that no one would think of rescoring Palestrina or Byrd, but that "Messiah is made to conform with alien principles.  The country road is obliterated.  A trunk road, unlovely and unloved, takes its place.  Progress loses virtue when arrogant." (pg. 14).  Most of the book is concerned with how the author believes Messiah is meant to be performed, and he occasionally gets quite detailed in his analysis, going line by line through various choruses and arias.  The brevity of the book doesn't allow a full discourse, but he manages to get his point across in the pages allotted.  He continues his argument against large forces in the final chapter, "Orchestration", which argues for a harpsichord accompianment verses an organ, which had become the norm.  In the intervening years since this book's appearance, there has been a huge swing is exactly the direction which Young argues for; some would say the pendulum has swung too far towards "authenticity" - but it's interesting to read a book which argues for exactly that point, and from a perspective firmly entrenched on the "other" side.


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