I decided a really nice thing to do with $.99 of the lovely iTunes card I got as a pressie for Christmas would be to finally own a copy of "Zadok the Priest," because who doesn't need to feel like you do when you're listening to that sometimes? Get yourself charged up. But--it turns out--which to buy? Kings College Cambridge? Tallis singers? St. Martin-in-the-Fields? London Phil? Westminster Abbey? Academy of Ancient Music? Herb Alpert? Pharrell? Who has the best feel for it? It was hilarious--I think I listened to maybe twelve 30 second samples of the opening arpeggios (?whatever) trying to decide. Who does the best job? The main thing you get out of comparing like that is tempo.
The thing is, it IS a tricky piece of music in some ways. No resolution could ever be as satisfying a the build-up of that piece--including the resolution Handel wrote--so you want a version that gets as much out of it as it can. And if they don't come in just right on that first ZAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYddddoOKKKKKKK, there's no point. So iTunesing it is still a gamble--don't get the payoff til late.
What I didn't know is that this is a big soccer anthem! Which makes a huge amount of sense, because it really is like Handel + a monster truck rally.
I didn't get that version though (London Festival Orch). I went with the Last Night of the Proms version by the BBC Concert Orchestra. I figured there's a place where they really have to deliver, right? All those drunk listeners wound up into a patriotic frenzy. Can't drop the ball there. It is good, nicely crisp--albeit almost too speedy. The shortest version, next to the Prague Phil. The longest? One of the King's College Cambridge versions.
And all the people rejoiced!