Big, fat Messiah

John Gilks, Operaramblings blog

Sir Andrew Davis is in town conducting his own orchestration of Handel’s Messiah.  In the modern world this is probably as close as it gets to Sir Malcolm Sargent and the Huddersfield Choral Society.  He conducts the TSO with brass and woodwinds that Handel never saw and lots of percussion including snare drum, sleigh bells, tambourines and marimba. He also has the not inconsiderable heft of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.

That said, in some ways this is quite a modern Messiah.  Tempi, for the most part, are HIP brisk and in places the orchestration is lightened up, for example in the opening of “I know that my redeemer liveth” which uses only solo strings and clarinet.  The use of percussion is mostly pretty deft though I think there are places that won’t suit everyone.  Like others before him, Sir Andrew rather uses “All we like sheep” for comic relief with some brass writing, assuming what was played was what was written, which sounded disturbingly like the “goat meme”.

Read the full review online.