Handel's Messiah, by the City of Birmingham Choir, at Symphony Hall
This was just the musical fare to cheer a capacity audience on a cold and wet winter night. Christmas festivities can sometimes disappoint but the City of Birmingham Choir’s annual performances of Handel’s Messiah never do.
They were given first rate support from Adrian Lucas conducting a pared-down CBSO whose nimble string phrasing and tangy brass playing made The Trumpet Shall Sound piercing and pungent.
They were accompanied on harpsichord by Thomas Trotter as he celebrated 25 years of playing this work with the choir. The choir’s crisp diction was admirable and their rhythmic surety evident both in Handel’s gentler moments, We Like Sheep, and in declaiming the attributes of the Saviour in Unto us a Child is Born.
Messiah requires sterling work from its soloists and received it in this performance. Alison Roddy’s bright silvery soprano was very affecting in I Know that my Redeemer Liveth while Ed Lyon’s tenor, light and flexible in modern baroque performance style, nicely despatched the demanding runs of Every Valley.
Mezzo-soprano Susan Spicer, favoured dignity above passion in He was despised while young bass-baritone George Humphreys, impressive in Why do the Nations, is definitely a singer to listen out for in the future.