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Messiah by City of Birmingham Choir at Birmingham Symphony Hall

Maggie Cotton reviews Messiah by the City of Birmingham Choir at Birmingham Symphony Hall

Can Handel have only taken 24 days to compose Messiah we ask, in disbelief? 259 glorious pages in all, with his assistant evidently in tears at the Halleluja Chorus.

We were truly privileged to hear this fine performance by the inspired City of Birmingham Choir, a chamber sized CBSO and committed soloists. Musical Director Adrian Lucas was in control covering a breadth of emotions from all quarters. He has a truly splendid choir with everyone palpably performing to their utmost.

Seemingly effortless voice production – clean entries, clear text, a true joy. A delight to observe discreet platform management throughout, challenging with a massive choir.

Solo soprano Rhian Lois was rather at odds with any deep religious solemnity; her light voice and glamorous off-the-shoulder evening dress somewhat detracting from the concept of ‘oratorio’. However her coloratura style ‘rejoicings’ were a delight, but more togetherness with discreet instrumental continuo passages would have helped. Tenor soloist James Oxley and bass George Humphries truly entered into the spirit of the work evidently relishing the unfolding story with their fine depictions of varied emotions including wrath, shaking, anger etc. Alto soloist Catherine Hopper on the other hand melted hearts with her warm, sensitive arias and recitatives.

The solo trumpet eventually blazed forth adding to some crisp neat playing from the orchestra.

Alexander Mason’s Chamber organ and Thomas Trotter’s harpsichord melded throughout.

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