Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)


Remembered above all as the composer of Messiah, Handel is surely misrepresented. Although certainly a religious man, he was never primarily a composer of sacred music. His numerous oratorios are essentially dramatic works, and his few liturgical settings, like the well-known ‘Utrecht’ Te Deum and Jubilate, are more ceremonial than devotional in spirit. Handel was above all a dramatist: his operas entertained London audiences for some thirty years before changing fashions prompted him to look for other outlets for his talents. But, as a man born of the theatre, he did not look very far. The oratorio provided the ideal alternative. Handel simply applied his operatic expertise to well-known biblical subjects and produced colourful, unstaged dramas which appealed to an increasingly moralistic middle-class audience attracted by works at once entertaining and uplifting.

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