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BCS - Concert Review
BCS Next Concert

Concert
Review

7.30pm
6 & 7 Dec 2013

Bath Abbey

© Peter Bradshaw

Extracts from the Bath Chronicle review of this year's Messiah:

After the audience stood in a minute of silence for the late Nelson Mandela and a brief prayer, Will Dawes' upraised arms started the opening Overture, beautifully integrated, the tempo exactly right. We settled back for Comfort Ye, to confirm our expectation that all will be well. Tenor Thomas Hobbs did not disappoint. This is a lovely clear rich tenor which brought us a sense of urgency, leavened with optimism which leads into the aria Every Valley, briskly sung, with the buoyant hope that is the essence of the work. The tone had been set and it was confirmed in a beautifully balanced, dramatic And the Glory of the Lord, given with conviction and vivid intensity: splendid singing, and I thought, I am going to enjoy this!

...We duly stood for Hallelujah, again taken at speed, before Part Three and I Know that my Redeemer Liveth. This was sung without a conductor, directed by Roger Huckle from the first violin desk, with Lucy Hall standing on the podium: an effective and interesting novelty. Since By Man was properly dramatic, sung, like Glory to God, without copies: and the final Worthy is the Lamb started steadily and firmly before gathering speed as it moved into top gear for the final Amen chorus.

The choir were in fine voice and handled the demand for ever increasing pace remarkably well under conductor Will Dawes, who is a highly talented and much sought-after young musician...The Bristol Ensemble under leader Roger Huckle gave a supremely supportive, polished response to the demands placed on them by Will Dawes. The orchestral contribution is often underestimated, and these players provided the perfect response, sympathetic yet in no way over-dominant.

Messiah, though, perhaps more than any other work, illustrates the gap in perception between the generations. We all bring our own expectations to it, based on its familiarity: and ancient reviewers sometimes find modern speeds detract from the essential meaning of the music. Young conductors understandably want to bring a new energy, pace and excitement - to allow fresh air to blow through these time-honoured choruses and arias. And modern audiences seem to like it.

Bath Chronicle, 9 December 2013


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