Review: BBC NOW - Handel's Messiah @ SDH
The Christmas period is never an easy one. There is much to do and so little time to execute all that has got to be done.
There are staples of Xmas in Cardiff: ballet at Saint David's, panto at the New and a musical at the WMC. But Saint David's Hall usually has an annual rendition of Messiah by Handel. It's a work of great importance in Western music, but can feel bloated and may have you yearning for any other time of year.
The music though is sublime. Packed with chorus numbers (featuring the famous Hallelujah), recitatives, arias, duets and a grand overture, there is much to take on board. I always speak of Handel's sincerity that seeps through his compositions and there are few composers to have his striking gentility in their music. With a choir, four soloists and an orchestra you could tuck in your pocket, no one would deny Messiah is not an uplifting evening and just a swell precursor to the otherwise painful holiday season.
Laurence Equilbey maintained the work with conducting of great power, in keeping with the epic themes. Soprano Mary Bevan, singing of many graces throughout the piece, pinpointing tiny moments in the story. Iestyn Davies is always an attraction to a concert. This super counter tenor is keeping the male soprano voice alive with a sweet and affectionate tone. His singing of He Was Despised, was a moment of teary-eyed perfection and a highlight of the whole oratorio.
Replacing Robert Murray was tenor Stuart Jackson with his several recitatives and a strident voice. Only I think he could do with a belt though, perhaps his tails were the wrong size. Completing the soloists was Brindley Sherratt, who is perhaps one of the first names that come to you when you think of basses. Always moody and murky in his singing, he is an always welcome addition to any work of music he is in.
The chorus and orchestra are usually the stars, if it weren't for a standout quartet of soloists. This is our choir's bread and butter, so perhaps it's time they got to know more of Handel's rich output of operas, oratorios and choral works.
Rating: 4 stars
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Photo Credit: BBC.co.uk