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Ensemble

Tremendous Urgency

Derby Bach Choir's performance of Handel's 'Messiah', reviewed by MIKE WHEELER

 

To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this, my second performance of Handel's Messiah in the space of a month, with total enthusiasm. But it turned out to be an involving, often thrilling occasion (Derby Bach Choir, Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 10 March 2007).

Including every number (in their most familiar versions) made for a long evening, but Derby Bach Choir remained in admirably fresh voice throughout, producing a degree of clarity, rhythmic precision and buoyancy that was a real achievement with such a large body of singers. The jagged rhythms of 'Behold the Lamb of God' were rather smoothed out at what was a fairly moderate tempo, but 'Surely he hath borne our griefs' had tremendous urgency.

Of the four soloists, soprano Katherine Manley brought brightness and charm to her numbers: 'Rejoice greatly' positively bubbled. Mezzo Flora York Skinner gave a thoughtful, deeply-felt account of 'He was despised', though she could have afforded to lighten her tone in 'O thou that tellest ...' which came over as a little severe. Matthew Beale's clear, focussed tenor was neat and incisive in 'Every valley ...' and negotiated the change of tone from dark to light at the start of 'But thou didst not leave ...' with a nicely unobtrusive but sure grasp of the dramatic corner that was being turned. Bass Mario Solimene sang with power and authority but his generous vibrato sometimes undermined his precision of pitch, particularly in 'The trumpet shall sound'.

Derby Bach Orchestra provided neat, stylish support (placing the two trumpets at the back of the audience for 'Glory to God' was an effective dramatic touch) and conductor Richard Roddis shaped the whole performance with a keen sense of both effective individual moments and the work's overall shape.

Copyright © 17 March 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK

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DERBY BACH CHOIR'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE MOZART ANNIVERSARY

ELGAR'S 'DREAM OF GERONTIUS', SUNG BY DERBY BACH CHOIR

A PERFORMANCE OF HANDEL'S 'SOLOMON'

RICHARD RODDIS

DERBY BACH CHOIR

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