Messiah Concert 22 October 2016

Messiah insetAfter introductions for the Lord Mayor’s Concert, celebrating the choir’s 170th anniversary season with Handel’s Messiah, the Exeter Chamber Orchestra gave an excellent start with the overture to this well-known work.

Their playing was good throughout, reflecting their professionalism and greatly complementing the choir. When appropriate they created lovely, calm pastoral effects in keeping with the mood.

The cathedral was soon filled with the choir’s magnificent sound in ‘And the Glory’. Generally speaking the antiphonal entries and difficult semiquaver passages were managed well, especially in ‘His Yoke is Easy’, making the effect also sound easy, and in the fast tempo of ‘All We Like Sheep’ they certainly did not go astray.

The interval came all too quickly.

The choir then resumed with the difficult octave leaps in ‘Behold the Lamb’ mostly well produced, and ultimately ‘Worthy is the Lamb’ brought the performance to a fitting close.

Among the highlights were the soprano soloist Sarah Power in ‘Rejoice’, sung as if she were rejoicing, with good breath control, and producing beauty in ‘How Beautiful are the Feet’. Also noteworthy was bass Alan Fairs, with crisp lively rhythms and an expressive ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’, supported by an excellent trumpet part.

Andrew Millington is to be congratulated on both his training of the choir and bringing such good ensemble playing between choir and orchestra. The choir’s discipline also showed in their unobtrusive sitting and standing, never distracting from the soloists or the music.

Overall – a most enjoyable evening of music and performance. Well done.

Anne Brown

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