10 July 2022

Christmas in July

Chrissy in July is not a thing for me but Handel Messiah is usually something we hear at Christmas but this was winter, unseasonably cold outside.  Canberra Symphony Orchestra put on Messiah with its Messiah Chorus auditioned and convened by Tobias Cole.  The numbers were not huge, ~35 instrumentalists and ~40 chorus and four soloists.  The program didn't say, but the solo singers were Chloe Lankshear and Andrew Goodwin and Adrian Tamburini along with Tobias.  The basses were old mates Kyle and David and Hayley but only Kyle and Hayley on the night.  Kyle played most as solo when the front lines played.  The work is a dream, of course, and well known and loved and it's deserved.  Quite a few fugues (I love a fugue) and plenty of rich choral passages and those soloists with harpsichord or organ or solo violin or often a smaller ensemble, but the extravagance and delirium of the choral passages and full orchestras are what really does it for me and most.  We duly stood for the Hallelujah chorus, but we had to be goaded / invited.  I was not the only one who'd forgotten that rite of passage.  And the choir was good.  First up I thought the women were good, but the lower voices are always less appreciated or obvious but they showed their colours and impressed.  So impressive all round.  The trumpet passage (aptly in The trumpet shall sound) was lovely; the solo violin was satisfying, the parts were convincing.  I felt just a little discomfort in timing or perhaps some rushing in the tricky bits early on but that settled.  As for the bass, I was surprised by some tricky parts and look forward to printing the part for a gander. Anthony Hunt from State Opera of SA was upfront and led comfortably.  And that lovely scalar semiquaver stuff by voice (paralleled by instruments, too, of course), is demanding and tricky and a real test.  I was surprised how capably the chorus carried this out.  We expect it from the soloists, but it seems more difficult for massed voices who are perhaps less trained.  So we all left with joy and excitement and satisfaction after 2 hours and interval for a pretty long night of music.  Just such a pleasure: nicely done and such joyous music.

Canberra Symphony Orchestra with the CSO Messiah Choir under Anthony Hunt (conductor) with soloists Chloe Lankshear (soprano), Tobias Cole (countertenor), Andrew Goodwin (tenor) and Adrian Tamburini (bass).  Kyle Ramsey-Daniel and Hayley Manning (bass) played the low end.

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