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Buoyant and crisp

'Messiah' in Derby Cathedral,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


I must admit that I sometimes view an approaching performance of Handel's Messiah in an 'oh, not again!' frame of mind. Usually, though, the music wins me round in the first few moments, and this invigorating account (Derby Choral Union, Derby Cathedral, UK, 17 December 2005) was no exception. The choir's first number, 'And the glory of the Lord', was buoyant and crisp, and this set the tone for the whole evening.

The big dramatic choruses of Part 2 had weight but also, more importantly, dramatic power. 'Surely he has borne our griefs' was as punchy as you could wish for, while 'He trusted in God' had terrific energy. Throughout the evening the choir sounded as secure and confident as I think I've ever heard them, although in numbers like 'And he shall purify', extended runs tended to lack focus.

The soloists all made musicianly contributions, though they were not all heard to best advantage. Soprano Sarah Dacey and counter-tenor Christopher Field sang with bright, well-projected tone. Tenor Ross Buddie was flexible in quieter passages (the opening of 'Comfort ye my people' was particularly memorable) but a heavy vibrato developed with increased volume. Bass Malcolm Arthur, substituting at the very last minute for an indisposed colleague, sang expressively, but his voice was a bit too lightweight for the music.

Conductor Richard Dacey presided over the performance with aplomb.

Copyright © 26 December 2005 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK




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