There are countless recordings of Handel's, Messiah and countless differences between each. I was fortunate to stumble across a recording that has captivated my attention. If I were to recommend one recording at this moment in time it would be this one - Messiah (Dublin Version, 1742), recorded by Dunedin Consort & Players and conducted by John Butt.
1742 Dublin Version
There were multiple performances of Messiah while Handel was living, however, the first was in Dublin, Ireland in 1742. Subsequent performances took place in London in which Handel made modifications to the original work to cater to different soloists.
In this recording you will hear arrangements of the same familiar numbers but with modifications. Don't be alarmed. You will quickly learn to love these alternate arrangements. In fact they may become your favorites!
This recording is electrifying from beginning to end. It is full of musical life, energy, and freshness. The exquisite treatment of nuance by the soloists/chorus (one and the same in this recording) and the instrumentalists is captivating. Each note is articulated with complete musical awareness of style, periodicity, color, and a heightened sense of musical expression. The cohesion between vocal and instrumental parts is perfectly melded. The tempos are lively and engaging with the dancelike figuration always preserved. The text is brought to new life with such detailed and careful attention to both the macro (phrase) and the micro (inner note articulation). The bottom line for me is that I have not heard another Messiah recording so exciting to listen to that I want to keep coming back over and over again.