MUSIC CRITIQUE - HANDEL'S MESSIAH - A SOULFUL CELEBRATION Producers Qunicy Jones and Mervyn Warren took George Frederic Handel's Messiah for a spin and did a wonderful job with it. They took a classical masterpiece and funk-defied it. This was one of the most important pieces of music to come across in decades, taking Handel's Messiah to the masses of R & B lovers. In true style, the composer re-arranged Handel's Messiah, to produce a classic collection of black music, while at the same time, carrying a European and Western tradition that is opposing to African origins of Black American music.
History and music are combined in this project that celebrates G.F. Handel's original Messiah, an oratorio for four-part chorus of mixed voices, soprano, alto tenor and bass solo and piano. Jones and Warren combines the black R & B tradition, heavily saturated in gospel and making a joyful noise, gospel based religious overtones and impose them on a European musical masterpiece. In 1741, Handel was in Dublin Ireland, when he composed the masterpiece in twenty-four days. The Schirmer introduction to the oratorio cites that: "in his choruses (Handel) did not go beyond four-part writing, and kept his orchestra within the most modest limits, so that no instrument except violin and trumpet plays a solo part, and oboe and bassoon do not appear at all in the score". Jones and Warren steered clear of the supposed limitations of Handel's original work. They brought synthesized music, marimbas, tambourines, and the music of rhythm and blues, to lift Handel's Messiah to soulful sounds.
Even though they enhanced this piece, they were still in keeping with the original music. These gentlemen produced one of the most revolutionary adaptations of a classical piece that I'm aware of and not likely possible of imitation. Handel's Messiah is a boastful yet contemplative piece of masterful proportions. It is one of the great musical wonders of the world. The composer, Mervyn Warren, takes a European sensibility and takes it to levels that you spontaneously want to rock to Handel! A Soulful Celebration was a revolutionary that was written and produced in 1992.
Warren takes a traditional first couple notes of Handel's oratorio, and then turns the remaining notes on their axis, wheeling and spinning them around to make a variation on the melody's theme. The music matches the lyrics of Handel's original music, word for word, and mixes in "ad lib" where necessary. This piece is a combination of homophonic, polyphonic and monophonic. It has an excellent beat and the harmony is simply magical. The dynamics are outstanding. Handel's Messiah has a stable tone combination.
The rhythm is repetitive and predictable after you get pass the instrumental part. The texture was beautifully arranged to enhance the original form. The beginning instrumental part starts off soft and slowly and then increases loudly and becomes more upbeat. The choir comes in on queue executing praises to God with their angelic voices. As the piece gets to the end, a solo part is sung with the accompaniment of the choir.
This is truly an uplifting piece demonstrating the highest praise to God (Hallelujah)!