Queens Hall, Edinburgh
Handel composed this sacred oratorio in 1741 to raise money for 3 Dublin charities, his librettist Charles Jennens provided the text compiling verses from the old and new testament to depict the life and death of Jesus and the tragic injustice of his life in order to bring salvation to mankind. Handel was in poor health at the time, but the result was Handel’s most revered oratorio, which was extremely well received from its first performance through to the present day.It has certainly stood the test of time, and provides a welcome refuge from the commercial emphasis of Christmas in our modern times. The music brings this spiritual text an emotional depth and moves us in a way that would be much harder with the text alone. Shifting from major to minor keys, dynamic string parts, and beautiful harmonic progressions. Solo parts follow choral parts, covering the emotional spectrum of hope, melancholy and sorrow, conflict and ultimately celebration and joy of Christ’s resurrection and mankind’s liberation.
The orchestra and choir were relatively small and gave an intimate atmosphere that I quickly adjusted to. The music was performed to a very high standard, conducted and directed by John Butt. Mhairi Lawson the solo soprano was the highlight for me, with her moving arias and relationship with the audience. Rowan Hellier, sang the alto parts with delicate precision and Thomas Walker tenor sang the beautiful ‘comfort ye’ and other arias with sensitivity and poignancy.
David Shipley with his regal bass voice added majesty and richness to the performance. This is an annual event at the Queen’s hall which many no doubt attend year in year out, with such a beautiful piece of music so expertly and sensitively performed, it is surely soul music that is much appreciated at this time of year. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Sophie Younger