This performance of the best-loved of all oratorios, played on original instruments, provides us with a new musical experience. The renowned conductor Roger Norrington--a leading proponent of authentic performance practices--leads the London Baroque Players and the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir in this concert, which was the highlight of the Cardiff Festival of Choirs in Wales. Handel wrote Messiah for a combination of winds and strings, not the large orchestras of the late 19th and 20th centuries. In this program, the work is performed to the original scoring. This Messiah on original instruments is a performance that truly increases our understanding of this magnificent work. 113 minutes.
The performance is five star quality, the only reason I gave it four stars is because the recording reflects broadcast TV of its era.
Technical quality is decent for broadcast video of its era (source tape was likely Type B 1-inch format, as that was the EU broadcast standard at that time). Basically, if you are old enough to remember Betamax, audio and video are about that quality -- better than VHS, not comparable to DVDs that were made from film. I'm viewing it on my computer as I type this review, in a window sized small enough that the imperfections in the video are not noticeable. The sound is quite good, with just a little tape hiss audible in the softer passages.
Overall, well worth purchasing. I've heard recordings with better technical quality, but none with better musical performances. Given a choice between a technically-perfect recording of a mediocre performance versus a less-than-perfect recording of a great performance, I'll take the latter.
The result is a performance that will long be remembered.