Review / Voices out in force for ‘Messiah’

music / “Messiah”, Canberra Choral Society. At Llewellyn Hall, December 12. Reviewed by Clinton White


“MESSIAH” is as versatile as it is popular.

Its composer Georg Friedrich Händel made it so through several revisions, often to suit the forces gathered to perform it. Its first showing saw only a small chamber orchestra and a choir of about 30 voices.

Add nearly 200 voices and a few instruments and you’ve got the forces for the Canberra Choral Society’s performance.

And it was a good performance, held together beautifully by music director, the inimitable Tobias Cole. The choir’s tone, pitch, balance, diction and entries were superb. Cole had the balance between choir and the smallish orchestra honed to perfection, too.

Tempi, at times, seemed a tad slow, particularly in “Comfort ye” and “He was despised”, where it dragged a bit. But that marvellous bass, Andrew Fysh, lifted things in a spirited, impassioned “Why do the nations”. Fysh inspired a new sparkle, especially when he returned to sing “The trumpet shall sound”, with truly electrifying playing by principal trumpet, Graeme Reynolds.

The other soloists were jewels, too. Tenor Christopher Lincoln Bogg and alto Veronica Thwaites-Brown delivered beautifully clear vocal lines while soprano Rachael Duncan’s voice soared in ‘Rejoice greatly” and was touching in “How beautiful are the feet”. “I know that my Redeemer liveth” was less successful though.

Typical of Cole, there was audience participation in “Hallelujah”, paving the way to a thrilling finish, drawing sustained applause for the CCS’ final concert for the year.

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