Rafters ring with magnificent Messiah

REVIEW Messiah Marlborough Singers, Tasman Combined Choirs, Christchurch Pettman Academy Orchestra.

Directed by Carl Browning.

Church of the Nativity on Saturday and Sunday, November 24 and 25

Composed in 1741, with scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens, this oratorio, Handel's sixth, was written over a two-week period in Dublin and first performed there in 1742.

The work is a commentary on Jesus Christ's nativity, passion, resurrection and ascension, beginning with the prophecy of Christ's coming into the world.

It is still the most performed and most well-known of all Handel's works.

At the weekend, as our harbinger to Christmas, Marlborough people were privileged to hear it again.

In The Church of the Nativity, acoustically a very good venue, The Marlborough Singers, Tasman Combined Choirs, backed by the Christchurch Pettman Academy Orchestra and members of the Blenheim Brass band, all under the baton of Carl Browning, came together in a superb performance of the Messiah.

The church rafters rang with the magnificent music. The choir, resplendent in multi-coloured tops, sang their hearts out, keeping the audience spellbound.

Browning managed to have entries spot-on, some quiet in minor keys, others building to exciting crescendos lifting the choruses to heaven itself.

Soloists were given full rein to interpret the music artistically, add embellishments and observe rubato, especially in the recitatives.

Soloists Sue Denson (soprano), Ruth Reid (alto), Alexander Wilson (tenor) and Steve Austin (bass) enthralled the audience with their flexibility of voices, and long legato phrases showed the controlled artistry of these classically-trained singers. Especially endearing was the way Wilson was able to sing over his music to engage with his eyes every member of the audience.

As Handel intended, limited use of the trumpets enhanced the glorious rendering of the choruses such as Hallelujah. Occasionally adding the drums gave depth to the musical background in the rousing choruses, too.

The trumpet solo by David Moseley was another highlight in a thoroughly professional performance of this great oratorio.

The final Amen brought the entire audience to its feet in acclamation of a truly memorable and professional performance.

The Marlborough Express