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The Sublime, the Grand and the Tender

Donald Macleod and his guest Ruth Smith talk about the reception of Messiah’s early performances in Dublin and the work’s long association with charity.

Donald Macleod and his guest Ruth Smith talk about the reception of Messiah’s early performances in Dublin and the work’s long association with charity.

In the winter of 1741, Handel packed his bags and left London for Dublin, where he spent nearly nine months writing and performing in the city. The main work that he premiered there was a new oratorio which proved to be one of the landmarks of his career. Across the week we hear the whole of Handel’s Messiah, uncover the secrets of its origins and dispel the myths that still surround it.

Today Donald and Ruth discuss Messiah’s triumphant premiere. A vast crowd was clearly expected – notices were published that begged ladies to come without skirt-hoops and gentlemen without swords. By the second day, panes of glass were even removed to cool the hordes of concertgoers. But crucially, these notices also made it clear that making room for more people would “greatly increase the Charity”. Philanthropy was a staple of 18th-century civic life and Handel was a prolific benefactor. Although Messiah faced a decidedly cooler reception in London, it was with the institution of charity performances at the Foundling Hospital that it eventually found lasting popularity, continuing until Handel’s death and beyond.

Saul: Act I Scene 5, "O Lord, whose mercies numberless"
Sarah Connolly, mezzo-soprano (David)
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, conductor

Messiah: Part Two (excerpts)
Nicholas Mulroy, tenor
Matthew brook, bass
Dunedin Consort and Players
John Butt, conductor

Messiah: Part Two (excerpts)
Susan Gritton, soprano
Neal Davies, bass
Gabrieli Consort & Players
Paul McCreesh, conductor

Messiah: Part Three (excerpts)
Margaret Marshall, soprano
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
John Eliot Gardiner, conductor

Utrecht Te Deum, HWV 278 (movements 5 – 10)
Nicki Kennedy, soprano
William Towers, alto
Wolfram Lattke, tenor
Julian Podger, tenor
Peter Harvey, bass
The Netherlands Bach Society
Jos van Veldhoven, conductor

Produced in Cardiff by Amelia Parker

59 minutes

Music Played

  • George Frideric Handel

    Saul: Act I 'Lord whose mercies numberless'

    Singer: Dame Sarah Connolly. Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.
    • Coro : COR16103.
    • Coro.
    • 30.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah: Part 2 (extracts)

    Singer: Nicholas Mulroy. Singer: Matthew Brooke. Ensemble: Dunedin Consort. Ensemble: Dunedin Players. Conductor: John Butt.
    • LINN RECORDS : LINN-CKD285.
    • LINN RECORDS.
    • 8.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah: Part 2 (extracts)

    Singer: Susan Gritton. Singer: Neal Davies. Ensemble: Gabrieli Consort. Ensemble: Gabrieli Players. Director: Paul McCreesh.
    • ARCHIV 453 464-2.
    • ARCHIV.
    • 6.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah: Part 2 (extracts)

    Singer: Nicholas Mulroy. Ensemble: Dunedin Consort. Ensemble: Dunedin Players.
    • Linn CKD 285.
    • Linn.
    • 15.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah: Part 3 (extracts)

    Singer: Margaret Marshall. Choir: Monteverdi Choir. Orchestra: English Baroque Soloists. Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
    • PHILIPS 4342972.
    • PHILIPS.
    • 19.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Te Deum for the Peace of Utrecht, HWV 278 (final movements)

    Singer: Nicki Kennedy. Singer: William Towers. Singer: Wolfram Lattke. Singer: Julian Podger. Singer: Peter Harvey. Choir: Netherlands Bach Society Chorus. Orchestra: Netherlands Bach Society Baroque Orch. Conductor: Jos van Veldhoven.
    • PHILIPS 4342972.
    • PHILIPS.
    • 19.

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