VIDEO

LABEL: E1 ENTERTAINMENT
CATALOG NUMBER: E1E-DV-6731
UPC NUMBER: 741952673194
NUMBER OF DISCS: 4
RUNNING TIME: 1:07:28
YEAR RECORDED: 1955
RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 26, 2010
ASPECT RATIO: 1.33:1
AUDIO: MONO
REGION: 1
CONDUCTOR: LEONARD BERNSTEIN
ORCHESTRA: SYMPHONY OF THE AIR
CHOIR: SCHOLA CANTORUM
SOPRANO: ADELE ADDISON
ALTO: GLORIA LANE
TENOR: DAVID LLOYD
BASS: WILLIAM WARFIELD

VIDEO SAMPLES OTHER RELEASES

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SITE RATING:  4/10
SITE REVIEW:  As far as I'm aware, this is the earliest filmed performance of Messiah (although only the first half) ever, which alone makes it of interest.  Included as a bonus performance as part of this boxed-set release of Omnibus, the 1950s-era television series hosted by Bernstein in which he, using all of his considerable charm and musicianship, introduced America to all the vast variety of music, both classical and modern, jazz, opera, and popular which you could find in the U.S. at the time.  Although of historical interest, the performance leaves much to be desired in terms both technical and performance issues.  The performance, despite (or probably because of) Bernstein's presence, is overblown to the greatest degree, with the greatest offenders being the Schola Cantorum, who sing with all the fervor of a tent revival, showing little unity in their blustery sound.  The soloists all hail from the Grand Opera stage, and sing with full-throated efforts, part of which I blame on the primitive recording equipment available to live television at the time, and the distraction of them having to sing for a camera.  The recording quality, while somewhat better than a kinescope, still manages to distract from the performance at nearly every turn, with the camera either too far back to capture the performers expression, or too close in, focusing on the more attractive choir members in steely close-ups.  Bernstein's conducting is certainly energetic, but it doesn't translate into pushed tempos, for Bernstein keeps things firmly in the Romantic mode, bringing out truckloads of melodrama, but little subtlety.  Recommended for historic Messiah enthusiasts, early TV fans, musicians, but not a first choice of video performances of Messiah.


The Compleat Messiah All Content Copyright 2015 Bret D. Wheadon
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