Young Critics Review 2019 – Messiah (by Natalie Borenstein)
Handel’s Messiah was introduced at the beginning of the performance as one of his most incredible spiritual and musical works. It is said that, when Handel completed his setting of The Messiah, he wept at his achievement which had, in his eyes, awakened Heaven before him.
In fitting floods of colour, the stage was lit in red, with illuminated purple and blue columns.
The performance was a ‘Come and Sing’ event that was heavily based around universal musical participation and community engagement. Due to this, the Messiah was sung by a range of abilities.
Starting with the Sinfony in the form of a French Overture, the orchestral performance held a lively baroque tone that playfully linked the slow double dotted section to the fast fugal section with passion and tenderness.
Patrick Craig, the conductor, was both vivacious and precise. However, following the deep but heavily vibrato filled solos, the choir’s chorus ‘And The Glory of The Lord’ was compromised by the constant drifts from the tempo. This was a recurring theme throughout the event and was partially due to the mixed conducting given by Craig (who had set a pace which was visibly too fast for the choir). The focus on community engagement altered the standard of the Messiah considerably, but did not alter the refreshing enthusiasm of the singers.
In addition, despite off-timing at intervals, the altos and first sopranos provided uplifting blocks of strength for the overall performance, stabilised by their own effort and the support of a brilliant continuo player and orchestra; as a rule, the orchestra was fervent and naturally in time with the conductor’s pulse and the ground-breaking, cacophonous emotion of Handel’s Messiah.
By Natalie Borenstein (age 15)