Tuesday 26 April 2011

Messiah at the Barbican

On Good Friday I made my way to London for the Huddersfield Choral Society's performance of Handel's Messiah at the Barbican Centre which was part of their 175th anniversary season. Also performing were Elizabeth Watts - Soprano, Dame Felicity Palmer - Mezzo-soprano, Mark Le Brocq - Tenor and Christopher Purves - Baritone. Conductor for the evening was Joseph Cullen with the City of London Sinfonia.

My journey to the Barbican included a train from Norwich to Ingatestone then coach to Newbury Park before catching the tube to Liverpool Street. It's only a ten minute walk to the Barbican from Liverpool Street where I enjoyed a coffee and chocolate brownie before making a visit to the Museum of London. Before the performance I returned to the Barbican to enjoy a delicious cauliflower and sweet potato curry.

Handel composed Messiah in London during the Summer of 1741 and premiered the work in Dublin the following year. Handel repeatedly revised the work until reaching it's most familiar version in 1754. Part One is the prophecy and realisation of God's plan to redeem mankind by the Coming of the Messiah. Part Two is the accomplishment of redemption by the sacrifice of Jesus, mankind's rejection of the offer, and mankind's utter defeat.

I was particularly looking forward to the performance of Elizabeth Watts who was a chorister at Norwich Cathedral. She won the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2007. Her excellent recording of Bach Cantatas was released this year. I've also been listening to the Huddersfield Choral Society's new recording of Messiah that I highly recommend.

It was a splendid evening with brilliant performances from all the soloists complemented by the choir and orchestra. The acoustics at the Barbican are top class along with the excellent facilities at the venue made this such an enjoyable experience. Messiah is a much loved work that is very closely associated with the Huddersfield Choral Society. Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, goodwill towards men.

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