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Mozart's Messiah, Christmas Selections

I'm taking over a tradition of performing Mozart's Messiah in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada during Christmas. The selections have been more or less the same during the years. I would be interested in getting some ideas from other conductors about selections for a 1 1/2 to 2 hours performance possibly ending with a sing along Hallelujah chorus.
 
Thank you,
Björn Runefors
Director
Fredericton Choral Society
Replies (9): Threaded | Chronological
on July 27, 2011 10:11am
Dear Bjorn:
 
As far as I know, Mozart didn't write a Messiah. If he did, I'd like to hear it!
John Biggs
on July 27, 2011 10:41am
John, I'm sure he means Mozart's arrangement of "Messiah" - which has many departures from the urtext Handel!
on July 27, 2011 4:30pm
Bjorn:  Yes, I assume that you mean Handel's "Messiah," as reorchestrated (but not rewritten) by Mozart at Baron von Swieten's instigation in order to "update" it.  Mozart never wrote a Messiah.  Neither did Watkins-Shaw or any other "editor."
 
I personally prefer Handel's orchestration, but the Mozart is lovely, and so are most 19th century re-orchestrations.
 
All the best,
John
on July 28, 2011 4:28am
Dear everybody,
 
Of course I mean Mozart's orchestration of Handel's Messiah.

I'm just interested in hearing how other people make their selections for a Christmas performance of Handel's Messiah. I grew up in the Swedish/German tradition where we rather performed Bach's Christmas Oratorio than Handel's Messiah for Christmas.
 
Thank you,
Björn Runefors
on July 28, 2011 11:07am
Björn:  The problem with Bach's "Oratorio"--any of the three, actually--is that it was never conceived as and never intended to be a single, stand-alone concert piece.  "Messiah" was.  "Messiah" is based on the Italian Oratorio, with which Handel became familiar during his years of "graduate school" in Italy, and is a stand-alone concert sacred opera.  Bach's is based on the Lutheran Cantata tradition, and in fact is a series of six separate cantatas intended to be presented during six separate services during the "12 Days of Christmas."  Even the different orchestrations for each cantata underscore that simple fact.  We have programmed two of them, combined with the Corelli Christmas Concerto, but I can't imagine programming all six of them at one seating.
 
Sorry I can't answer your real question, but everyone has his or her own approach to "Messiah," ranging from Part I plus Halleluia to the whole thing from beginnig to end.
 
All the best,
John
on July 28, 2011 12:37pm
Hi John,
 
Thanks for your feedback. Regarding Bach's Christmas Oratorio, the most common practice in my Swedish Lutheran environment is to perform part 1-3 as a unit, with the option to perform part 4-6 the following weekend (or day) for the ambitious conductor. We actually did part 1-3 here in Fredericton for the first time 2 years ago.
 
Cheers,
Björn
on July 29, 2011 3:30am
We've done many many variants, but Part One through "For unto us" is ~33'.   Pifa - "His Yoke" and then "He was cut off" through "Hallelujah" (with the duet "How beautiful" and chorus "Break forth) is about 40' more.   A few minutes can be shaved substituting Dublin secco versions of "But who may abide" and "Thou shalt break them",  leaving time for a 25' Part 3 with the arioso "If God be for us"- that last pure Mozart!
 
Isnt it annoying that Amazon doesnt list any track timings?  There are some here though: http://www.last.fm/music/Handel%2B%2526%2BHaydn%2BSociety/Handel+Arr.+Mozart%3A+Messiah
on July 29, 2011 10:40am
Hi Richard,
 
Thanks a lot for your timings and the link!
 
Cheers,
Björn
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