The first Messiah of the 21st century

The first Messiah of the 21st century


norman lebrecht

November 10, 2014

There is no recording of Handel’s Messiah that I can recommend without hesitation. The big-bang old band style just won;t wash these days and many of the period-instrument performances are just too… earnest.

So when a Messiah landed on my deck with just the right tempo and a bit of flesh on its bones, I had little hesitation in picking it as Album of the Week on… or of crowning it the first of its century.

Whose performance? Click here.



  • Philip says:

    Easily my favourite Messiah is that from Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Whatever ideas and preconceptions you may have about Solti and the ‘screaming skull’, forget them, this is as wonderful and moving a rendition a you will ever hear.

  • David says:

    I’ll take the Handel keyboard suites played by Keith Jarrett over any performance of Messiah, any day…

  • Yi-Peng Li says:

    Mr Lebrecht, I’ve just been thinking. Before the release of this Haim Messiah, there were several highly-regarded Messiah recordings made in the Noughties that won notable awards. I’m wondering if you’re aware of the Coro version of Harry Christophers and the Sixteen, or even the Linn recording with John Butt and the Dunedin Consort. Can these still rub shoulders with Haim’s new version? Can they still be as well-regarded as Pinnock and Cleobury-King’s (1990s version) as my standards in this repertoire?