Episode 3: A Handel's Messiah Christmas Chorus, Performed by Le Concert d’Astree

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Chorus from Handel's Messiah
Le Concert d’Astree  
Conducted by Emmanuelle Haim
Available at Arkivmusic.com

We hear Handel’s oratorio Messiah at this time of year more than any other, but it was not composed for Christmas, or for any particular time of year. Handel wrote it in 1741 in just a little over three weeks’ time, which sounds something like a Christmas miracle – except that it was late summer, and he wrote lots of his other oratorios and his operas at similar speed. It was just how he worked.

Messiah was premiered at a benefit concert in Dublin in April 1742. The first performance was a success, both artistically and as a charity effort: Two hospitals received aid, and 142 people were released from debtor’s prison. Think about that: Handel’s Messiah got people out of jail. Here are conductor Emmanuelle Haim and Le Concert d’Astree with a chorus from the Christmas section of Messiah, "For unto us a child is born."

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