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Handel: Messiah




2-CD recording of Handel's Messiah with boy treble soloists.


Detailed Description

"This is a very special recording. Not only is it of quite outstanding quality both musically and dramatically, but, being sung entirely by male voices associated with a single institution (all the soloists are past or present members of New College Choir), it probably comes as close as modern conditions permit to a sound that Handel would have recognized." - The Daily Telegraph

"Taking his cue from Handel's 1751 performances, Edward Higginbottom assigns all the soprano solos to some talented boy trebles from the Choir of New College, Oxford. Otta Jones's contribution to 'He shall feed his flock' and Henry Jenkinson's 'I know that my redeemer liveth' are lovely testaments to Higginbottom's crusading 30 years with his choir.

At best, Higginbottom's choir produces some marvelous moments ('All we like sheep', and one of the finest 'Amen' fugues on disc). Higginbottom's direction does not boil with dramatic intensity but instead simmers along with patience, elegant judgement and articulate tastefulness. Some familiar music bears ripe fruit when taken a shade slower than has become common in recent times ('Glory to God' is splendid rather than hurried, and all the better for it). Ex-scholar Toby Spence is on fine form in 'Rejoice greatly', and Iestyn Davies's poetic singing is another enjoyable feature, although one might hanker for a more dramatic treatment of 'shame and spitting' ('He was despised'). 'The trumpet shall sound' resounds with David Blackadder's magnificent playing, and the Academy of Ancient Music play Handel's orchestral parts immaculately. This Naxos release will appeal to those who want an affordable Messiah that is beautifully played, brightly sung, sweetly satisfying and unashamedly English in its sentimental roots." - the Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010


  • Academy of Ancient Music, Choir of New College Oxford
  • Edward Higginbottom
  • Toby Spence (tenor), Eamonn Dougan (bass), Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor), Robert Brooks (treble), Henry Jenkinson (treble), Otta Jones (treble)
  • Recorded: 03 - 08 January 2006
  • Recording Venue: St. John's, Smith Square, London, UK
  • Release Date: 2nd Oct 2006
  • Catalogue No: 8570131-32
  • Label: Naxos
  • Length: 2 hours 21 minutes