Händel’s Messiah is without doubt one of the most beautiful homages ever rendered by a musician to the cult of universal love. ‘‘Comfort ye, my people,” intones the sublime voice of the Messiah in the first aria, a true hymn to hope: the infinite tenderness of certain solos rival in beauty with the exultation of the choral sections. Since its triumphant premiere in Dublin in April 1742, this oratorio has always been counted among the key works of the repertoire. What makes for the grandeur of this score: is it the talent of the composer for the quasi-operatic dramatization of a form derived from sacred music? Or is it the refinement and charm of the Italian style, from which the music of angels here takes its source? Or again is it the reassuring figure of the Christ, who for the first time is here not represented as the moribund icon of suffering but on the contrary as a triumphant figure, grand and gentle?
Emmanuelle Haïm and Le Concert d’Astrée offer a new way to hear the Messiah, one that will be engraved in stone: the public is warmly invited to share this grand moment, which will also be the object of a live recording.
Messiah (HWV 56) by Georg Friedrich Haendel
Choir and orchestra Concert d’Astrée
Conductor Emmanuelle Haïm
Lucy Crowe soprano
Tim Mead countertenor
Andrew Staples tenor
Christopher Purves basse