Saturday 22 March at 7pm in Bath Abbey, City of Bath Bach Choir with Music for Awhile, leader Margaret Faultless, conducted by Nigel Perrin
This Messiah – of all I’ve heard and performed – was unique.
The music was magnificent: and we had the whole work, including the lesser known pieces, now not often heard, which took nearly three hours, but added immeasurably to its impact. And it gave the choir a chance to show us their calibre which they seized with both hands. This was singing of high quality, precise and balanced, but full of meaning and warmth, giving these well-known choruses freshness and energy. In particular, the tempi were well-nigh perfect, carefully adjusted, no rushing, giving the singers time to articulate the notes with clarity and precision. And the dynamic contrasts were beautifully observed, especially Since By Man Came Death, hushed and dramatic in turn. Nor did the sheep go astray, over the hills and far away prestissimo. Choral singing at its best.
Mhairi Lawson’s soprano was very fine: I enjoyed Rejoice Greatly, immaculately phrased and paced. Matthew Brook is always in tremendous voice, and The People Walked in Darkness with resonant sureness: The trumpet, too, sounded splendid, vocally and instrumentally.
Music for Awhile were impeccable, leader Margaret Faultless quite outstanding in the violin obbligato, If God Be For Us, with Mhairi Lawson. It was the kind of virtuoso orchestral playing, supportive and sensitive, that every conductor longs for, but doesn’t always get, and Nigel Perrin was suitably appreciative. A most excellent performance of this very well-known work, which showed us the real quality of the music and why we never tire of hearing it – certainly sung as well as this. Nigel Perrin and his singers should be very pleased: the packed audience certainly was.
Peter Lloyd Williams