Well, now, I could hardly have a ‘prepare ye the way of the Lord / make His path straight’ theme and not include Handel, now could I? I’m pretty sure there is a law about that sort of thing.
The trick with this piece is, of course, that so many people have sung it that it’s really difficult to pick a favourite recording of it. And I really can’t have Ian Bostridge every year. Well, I mean, I could, but it seems like cheating…
So this year, I’ve found a rather delightful recording by Kurt Streit. There are some flaws in the recording (for some reason, it’s squished and compressed, and someone cut a bunch of the accompaniment – why would you DO that?), but there are really none in his performance. I love the effortlessness with which he sings, and how much joy he brings to the performance – it’s absolutely contagious, and I’d basically follow him anywhere if he sang at me like that.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!
PS – OK, I simply cannot mention Handel’s Messiah without drawing your attention to this completely bonkers production, directed by Claus Guth. It’s impeccably sung, but the staging is bizarre and includes interpretive dance, a sign language interpreter, and significantly more seductive intent than one usually finds in either ‘He Shall Feed his Flock’ or ‘How Beautiful Are the Feet’. (And yes, it goes precisely where you think it does in the latter case.)
If you have a couple of hours to spare and have a taste for high-quality Baroque music made completely bizarre, I highly recommend this to your attention.