Merry Xmas 1
It was interesting and I was pleased to read your views James on Beecham's Messiah. I don't know the Shaw, Davis, Cleobury discs and might try to get the Cleobury version - is this in the lightweight or more full bodied style? However, also refreshing to read what you say REG about 'interpretation' and I regard myself as fairly accommodating on this matter too, but I must say I do find the Beecham / Goosens version of the Messiah somewhat odd and quirky - somehow old fashioned, but this is nothing to do with the scale of the sound. In James's defence, I don't think he was being quite so 'picky' in his views of this version. I should go on to say that in spite of my comment, I do like the disc and of course, Jennifer Vyvyan's singing. .
In my limited knowledge of such matters, I always understood the large scale rendering of the Messiah etc. to be a hangover from Victorian days, whereas I thought that the work was written with more lightweight forces in mind and that it has been for some time, more fashionable to go back to this original style. So interesting to read that this is a rather simplistic view of events. Personally I prefer the big scale approach (don't know of any modern recommendable versions like this though) but then full bodied orchestral sound is my favourite style of music, particularly in combination with voices, whether solo &/or choir.
Whilst writing, I would also go on to concur with the view expressed here occasionally, that the actual sound quality of the recording on disc, standard of playing / singing, acoustics of venue etc. is more important than the 'interpretation', but within reason of course. But these sentiments are not really relevant to this Beecham / Messiah discussion, though I do seek a version of this work, large in scale and v.g. sounding.