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Messiah, The: George Frideric Handel - The Choir Of King's College (1993)
Starring: John Mark Ainsley, Stephen Cleobury, Lynne Dawson, Alastair Miles, Hillary Summers
Director: Dirk Jan Bijker
Category: Music, Special Interest
Studio: Image Ent.
140 mins



Handel's most famous oratorio, The Messiah, is a grand and inspiring anthology of passages from the Old and New Testaments relating to Christ before, during and after his life on Earth.By this piece the composer's name is known throughout the world, yet it is something of an oddity in his work since he was not a religious composer in the accepted sense.But still The Messiah's power, lyricism, sincerity and profundity make it one of the supreme musical creations as well as an outstanding example of devotional art.Haydn, on hearing the Hallelujah Chorus in Westminster Abbey, rose to his feet with the crowd, wept, and exclaimed, "He is the master of us all."

This live recording of The Messiah, from the handsome twelfth century Pieterskerk in Leiden, Holland, is the first 1752 version to feature the internationally acclaimed Choir of King's College, Cambridge.The chorus of thirty voices, the relatively small size of the orchestra and the use of period instruments brings the viewer close to the work as itwould have been performed in Handel's day.The candle-lit interior of the Pieterskerk provides a superbly atmospheric setting for this recording, which also cuts away to eighteenth century Bible prints and religious paintings by Rembrandt to highlight the devotional content of Handel's masterpiece.