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Shining Confidence

Derby Cathedral Choir's
performance of Handel's 'Messiah'
invigorates MIKE WHEELER


Derby Cathedral Choir has been giving biennial performances of Handel's Messiah for some ten years or more. This latest was the best yet (Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 13 December 2008).

What brought the whole performance alive more than anything was the shining confidence of the choral singing, not least from the trebles, both boys and girls. There was an infectious buoyant lift to the rhythm in choruses such as 'O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion', and 'For Unto us a Child is Born' had a fine sense of cumulative excitement. 'All we Like Sheep' had real drive, and the intricacies of 'His Yoke is Easy' were skilfully negotiated.

Soprano Lynne Dawson, in radiant voice, brought real serenity to 'How Beautiful are the Feet', though elsewhere there was a tendency for tone to be uneven across her whole range. Counter-tenor Sam Systma was clear and incisive in 'But Who may Abide the Day of his Coming?' Tenor Richard Roddis was poised in 'Comfort ye my people' and forceful in 'Thou Shalt Dash Them'. Niall Hoskin was a robust baritone rather than a dark-toned bass, but only the most diehard traditionalist would have found that a problem.

Under Peter Gould's direction, and with an assured contribution from the Heart of England Orchestra, this was one of the freshest, most invigorating performances I've heard in recent years.

Copyright © 22 December 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


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