RECORDINGS

LABEL: AVIE
CATALOG NUMBER: 2208
UPC NUMBER: 822252220827
NUMBER OF DISCS: 3 [2CD+1DVD]
RUNNING TIME: 2:12:00
YEAR RECORDED: 2010
CD RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 9, 2010
CONDUCTOR: JEANETTE SORRELL
ORCHESTRA: APOLLO'S FIRE BAROQUE ORCHESTRA
CHOIR: APOLLO'S FIRE
SOPRANO: AMANDA FORSYTHE
CONTRALTO: ELIZABETH SHAMMASH
TENOR: ROSS HAUCK
TENOR: IAN HONEYMAN
BARITONE: JEFFREY STRAUSS


AUDIO SAMPLES HIGHLIGHTS OTHER RELEASES

NONE

NONE

DISC ONE

1. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. Sinfony
2. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. Comfort ye
3. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. Ev'ry valley
4. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. And the glory of the Lord
5. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. Thus saith the Lord
6. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. But who may abide
7. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. And He shall purify
8. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. Behold, a virgin shall conceive
9. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. O thou that tellest
10. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. For behold, darkness
11. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. The people that walked in darkness
12. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. For unto us a child is born
13. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. Pifa
14. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. There were shepherds
15. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. And the angel said unto them
16. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. And suddenly
17. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. Glory to God
18. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. Rejoice greatly
19. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. Then shall the eyes of the blind
20. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd
21. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 1. His yoke is easy
22. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. Behold the Lamb of God
23. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. He was despised

24. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. Surely, He hath borne our griefs
25. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. And with His stripes
26. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. All we like sheep

DISC TWO

1. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. All they that see Him
2. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. He trusted in God
3. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. Thy rebuke hath broken His heart
4. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. Behold, and see
5. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. He was cut off
6. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. But thou didst not leave
7. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. Thou art gone up on high
8. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. The Lord gave the word
9. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. How beautiful are the feet
10. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. Why do the nations
11. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. Let us break their bonds
12. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. He that dwelleth in heaven
13. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 2. Hallelujah
14. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. I know that my Redeemer liveth
15. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. Since by man came death
16. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. Behold, I tell you a mystery
17. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. The trumpet shall sound
18. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. Then shall be brought to pass
19. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. O Death, where is thy sting?
20. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. But thanks be to God
21. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. If God be for us
22. Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: Part 3. Worthy is the Lamb


SITE RATING:  9/10
SITE REVIEW:  At first I mistook this release as a reissue of Sorrell's 1995 Messiah, which was also with the baroque group Apollo's Fire, but was pleased to discover that this was a brand-new interpretation, which performance is so far above the previous set, that it's almost as if an entirely different ensemble is performing.  Apollo's Fire, the Chicago-based baroque chamber ensemble, have mastered the clean, polished sound that is favored by modern music scholars, but even more impressive, Sorrell has managed to infuse a great deal of emotional content into the performance.  The chamber orchestra plays with highly-delineated precision, while the soloists and chorus sing with intense feeling, approaching technical perfection.  Among the soloists, Amanda Forsythe is a standout, with beautifully lyrical, unique ornamentation, a gorgeous tone, and passionate nuances.  Contralto Elizabeth Shammash possesses a rich, dark tone, full of pathos and drama; tenor Ross Hauck sings with a pure, angelic tone, while baritone Jeffrey Strauss brings a pleasant burr to his arias. Tenor Ian Honeyman, who doesn't make an appearance until the second disc, is the weakest link; despite possessing an enviable tone, his scenery-chewing recitatives veer into the melodramatic, and seem of a different piece than the rest of the performance.  The Choir sings with a clean "white" sound, but without sounding sterile and robotic, bringing great warmth and compassion to the choruses.  Comparing it to Sorrell's previous Messiah, it's clear that in the sixteen-year interval between the two recordings, she has shaped Apollo's Fire into a world-class organization.

The DVD portion of the set is short, running only about 30 minutes.  It's divided into two parts: the first, and longest segment, features Jeanette Sorrell discussing her love and understanding of select movements of Messiah, and features several filmed concert segments showing a couple of the soloists and several excerpts of different choruses.  The second part of the DVD is self-promotional - it features the director and several members of Apollo's fire plugging their own organization - with Sorrell discussing how she hand-picks each member for their emotional creativity, and the members discussing how free and empowering being a part of Apollo's Fire is.  Sorrell is omnipresent in the program - writing, narrating, and appearing throughout, and her unique persona (which I would classify as a hybrid of  Stevie Nicks and Shari Lewis), grew on me, although the opening shot of her leaning up against a stone arch intoning scripture made me wonder if this was going to be a modern-day Monty Python moment.  She is obviously a passionate, highly expressive director; has managed to surround herself with the cream of Chicago's baroque singers and instrumentalists, and this Messiah is so much more accomplished than the previous disc, that I can easily recommend it.



The Compleat Messiah All Content Copyright 2010 Bret D. Wheadon
All Rights Reserved.