"Messiah" recommendations?

Merry Christmas everyone. I heard a wonderful performance of Handel's Messiah this weekend and realized I don't own the work. Any recommendations for great performance/recording? Thanks...
The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy, with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the Columbia Masterworks label. Double album set of the complete George Frederick Handel's "Messiah". Vocals and orchestration rich and full, recording quality while not quite audiophile quality, still nonetheless good.
I would second checking out Arkivmusic.com. I'm sure they have good suggestions.

Back in the late sixties, Angle produced a 3-disk stereo LP version .... the first to be done on original instruments and from the original score.  The English Chamber Orchestra led by Charles Mackerras.  If that weren't enough, the soloists wer Elizabeth Harwood, Janet Baker, Paul Esswood, Robert Tear, and Rafmund Herincx ....an all-star cast if there ever was one for this music.  The album is beautifully recorded....both chorus and orchestra, and to this day tops any other version I've heard.  I immediately treated my set with LAST record preservative and despite 55 years of playing at least two-three times a year between Advent, Christmas, and Easter the disks remain gloriously pristine.

I don't know anything about this recording....whether it is still obtainable and in what format, but if you can ever hear it much less purchase it, it would be well worth the effort or expense. At the time it was "Album of the Year" material for all the  music publications and may put all the more recent recordings into perspective.


It depends upon whether you prefer the old school, large choral and orchestra forces that became popularized in England during Victorian times, or the Historically Informed Instrument approach which deliberately tries to prune the monumentality.  Both have their adherents.

  Of choices previously mentioned here, the Ormandy would be more the old school approach, and the Butt is the HIPP approach.  There are many others.  Sir Malcolm Sargent was a particularly good conductor of the traditional approach, and regarding the HIPP, I frankly haven’t heard the Butt, but I have other recordings by him and I don’t doubt that it is recommendable..  My HIPP version is lead by Christopher Hogwood.

  I recommend streaming one version of each approach and see what you like

The site linked below may be helpful, including  reviews of pretty much every Messiah ever recorded.  Of the top 10 choices recommended, I have heard four—Davis, Cleobury, Marriner and Layton—and they are all superb.  As mahler123 noted, a lot depends on whether you prefer traditional or HIP performances, and streaming a few before buying is surely a good idea.