Handel Messiah (complete)
Sunday 2nd Dec 2018 3:00PM
Nottingham Harmonic Choir
Orchestra da Camera
Conductor Richard Laing
The annual performance of Messiah at the Royal Concert Hall has become an unmissable fixture in the Christmas calendar. From the jubilant "Hallelujah" chorus, to the exquisite aria "I know that my Redeemer liveth", Messiah is an evocative setting of the biblical account of the birth, life and death of Christ. Handel's mastery of composition for solo voices, choir and orchestra culminates in a work full of superb arias and thrilling choruses, well-loved by audiences for almost three centuries.
Start your Christmas season with an evening of inspirational music. Handel's magnificent oratorio Messiah tells the story of Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection, through many narrative and explanatory extracts from the Bible. This dramatic work features several of the greatest arias and choruses ever written.
This concert comes at the start of Advent, when we are all finally becoming aware that it really isn't long until Christmas, even though the shops have been anticipating it for months. Come and have an evening to escape from the bustle and let Handel's glorious music wash over you and renew you.
Although Messiah is the work by which most people in the world know Handel, it is almost a misfit in his output. He was not generally a religious composer and was not employed as a church musician, but rather wrote operas and music for royal occasions. His oratorios appear to be simply operas with religious themes. At the time they were written in England, they were not allowed to be staged nor acted. They could only be performed in a church, not in a theatre.
Handel's operatic techniques are apparent in Messiah. The choir plays parts ranging from a vituperative mob hurling insults round the Cross to a choir of Angels singing of Jesus' birth and praising Him in Heaven.
Many of the soloists' arias are familiar and well-loved, but they make even more impact in the context of the whole work.
If you have never heard the whole of Messiah before, or have only heard versions which are heavily cut, where there is no sense of continuity, come and be prepared for a totally different, thrilling, emotional experience!
Review by: Peter Palmer, Nottingham Evening Post
Review title: Review of a previous concert
You should be hearing many different views on the highlights of this Messiah, because there was hardly a dull moment in Saturday's performance under Richard Laing.
Handel's famous Hallelujah chorus is the main contender, the voices climbing to dizzying heights. Never have I seen the first tier of the audience rise at the start with such alacrity. A Martian eavesdropping would have sworn we, too, had been rehearsed.
The performance gripped because the dramatic and reflective sections of the music were strongly contrasted. I need only mention the choral cries of "Glory to God" after the solo soprano's "There were shepherds abiding." The latter stages of Part One were memorable for lilting arias from Juliette Pochin and Lucy Hall, the Orchestra da Camera adding the radiant colours of an Old Master painting.
Though not the most Italianate of tenors, Christopher Lemmings gave pathos to his Part Two lament. The choruses were consistently incisive here. Adrian Powter's resonant "Why do the nations?" - taken at breakneck speed - cleared a path for the climactic revelation.
Soprano and orchestra combined beautifully in Part Three, and the lead violin, cello and harpsichord all had charisma. The choir sounded atmospheric in their hushed opening, electrifying in the crowning moments.