Handel's Messiah, Usher Hall, Review

Rating (out of 5)
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Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Richard Egarr (Conductor)
Elizabeth Watts (Soprano), Claudia Huckle (Contralto), James Gilchrist (Tenor), Ashley Riches (Bass Baritone), Members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra choir.
Running time

Handel's Messiah, written in 1741 (in only three and half weeks) is one of the most popular choral works ever to be performed. The sacred oratorio was written in three parts by the librettist Charles Jennens, who blended the texts from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. It charts the journey of Christ's birth, "For Unto Us A Child Is Born" to his Ascension, "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth", and final Redemption. The choral part most people are familiar with is the Hallelujah chorus, which is performed every year in various venues throughout the country at Christmas time.

Last night’s performance was flamboyantly conducted by Richard Egarr. An authority on baroque music he directed from the keyboard and his interpretation of this oratorio succeeded in bringing out in the singers and musicians all the pathos and passion endemic in this composition which fluctuates from rousing choral passages to the sublime.

The voices of the four British soloists were excellent: the soprano Elizabeth Watts; the contralto Claudia Huckle; the bass Matthew Rose; the tenor James Gilchrist and Bass Baritone Ashley Riches. With wonderful richness of tone, their voices fluctuated superbly in the complex recitative passages.

The SCO choir also gave a marvellous performance. All the weeks of rehearsal, under the guidance of Chorus Master, Gregory Batsleer, were more than worthwhile. The voices were perfectly balanced in the choral passages, which is quite a feat considering the vast emotional range the Messiah encompasses. The work also affords an opportunity for individual members of the orchestra to display their talent with Peter Franks on trumpet played flawlessly in the rousing air “The Trumpet Shall Sound”.

Friday 28th November – 7.30pm – Glasgow City Halls
Saturday 29th November – 7.30pm – Aberdeen Music Hall