Johanna Winkel Soprano
Benno Schachtner Countertenor
Krystian Adam Tenor
Krešimir Stražanac Bass
Václav Luks Musical conductor
While Messiah is Handel’s most famous work, the oratorio was composed rapidly for a premiere in Dublin in 1742.
The London premiere of Messiah (March 1743) did not meet with the success of the Dublin creation. Performing this highly religious work in a theatre could only upset puritans. King George II, however, was so moved by the Hallelujah that he stood up, soon followed by the entire audience and all British audiences since then.
Messiah, regularly performed for charity concerts, would soon become Handel’s landmark composition. Performed 36 times during his lifetime, it soon came to embody all that is majestic and sublime in music. Charles Jennens constructed the libretto dedicated to Christ in three parts: Nativity; Passion and Resurrection; Redemption. The ideal combination of soloist arias and choirs is admirable and Handel’s science of lyric music is deployed in both suave and victorious arias, among the composer’s finest. The memorable chorales have remained in our ears for 250 years…
Messiah met with resounding success when it was created on April 13th and for the repeat concert on June 3rd, the demand for tickets was such that gentlemen were asked “not to wear their sword” and ladies to come “in dresses without hoops to allow room for a larger audience and thus increase benefits intended for charitable purposes”. Dedicated to Christ and based on sacred texts, Messiah is an eminently religious work with no liturgical form. A sacred theatrical work, without the drama of historical oratorios, it expresses beautifully the fervor reminiscent of Handel’s Italian period, with the mark of English sacred music traditions and of the operas which Handel introduced to London. The beauty of the arias was immediately noted in Dublin and for the grand alto aria “He was despised”, Reverend Delany stood up in the audience, stirred by emotion and cried out to the singer “Woman, for this, may all your sins be forgiven”. Incomparable and indispensable Messiah.
Concert in German with surtitles in French
Georg Friedrich Handel (1685–1759)
Video: Handel, Messiah - Václav Luks, Collegium 1704
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