Archive for December, 2014

Marvellous Messiah!

13th December 2014, by Mark Lawrence

2014-12-12 20.38.50Also read Birmingham Post. Struck by the prevailing bugs, I could not sing in Messiah but repaired to the Grand Tier. (I was last in the audience for a City Choir Messiah in 1984 whilst a student, so it was a rare opportunity to see what the paying public gets.)
What a fine performance! Throughout, delicacy, precision of tuning and diction, lightness of touch, agility, dynamic range, good balance between players and singers. Of course, Messiah is a marvel – Handel has written no “dud” numbers in this piece. There was good contrast between main themes and accompanimental semiquavers. The control of tempo and diminuendo at the moment of “the iniquity of us all” was very moving. My favourite moment, “If he delight in him” with staccato – which brought me to the choir in the first place – was consistently applied by all the voices. Even the semitone ascension that is “Since by man came death” stayed in tune.
When you know the work inside out, you also know to look for the pitfalls. I am delighted to say that this performance avoided them, with the exception of a lack of “sync” by fine soprano soloist Rhian Lois in her final aria. James Oxley, tenor, played a dramatic continuity role with movement and gesture (and excellent singing, mostly without a copy) helping to glue the “story” together. Bass George Humphreys also provided excellent recitative and arias (together with the Sound of a first rate Trumpet). Catherine Hopper, contralto, completed this good team. The small CBSO band, with continuo keyboard from Thomas Trotter and Alexander Mason, played with sensitivity and warmth.
Fine work by Adrian Lucas, choir, orchestra and soloists, deserving the warm and immediate applause after the final “Amen” from a very good sized audience in Symphony Hall. Pencil in your diary for Friday 4th December 2015 – don’t miss it.