Last night Liz and I went to a wonderful performance of Handel’s oratorio The Messiah, at the Wellington Town Hall. We’ve been several times over the years, but this was the first for a while. Just magic! The performance was great, by the Vector Wellington Orchestra, the Tudor Consort and soloists Madeleine Pierard (soprano), Nicola Hooper (alto), Edmund Hintz (tenor), Hadleigh Adams (bass).
Other than the soloists, there were only 25 voices and 22 instruments. Which is the way Handel intended it. So often the Messiah is performed with large choirs and bigger orchestras, and there’s no denying that the Orpheus Choir getting wound up on the Hallelujah Chorus is something the hear and behold. But the smaller scale of last night’s performance allowed the genius of Handel’s composition and arranging to come through more clearly. And what genius it was: this magnificent oratorio, which has been performed countless times all over the world since its debut in 1742, was composed in just 24 days. Sure, he borrowed liberally from his earlier works, but the achievement is still mind blowing. Click below to listen to the Hallelujah Chorus.
I love the Messiah for its music and not its religion. But religion ‘aint all bad when it inspires works such as this. Unfortunately musical genius and passion was unknown in the dour little North Otago country church I had to attend as a kid.