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2019 Messiah Concert
Review of Handel’s Messiah, Palmerston North Choral Society, Regent on Broadway, Saturday November 30.
By Malcolm Hopwood.
Published in Manawatu Standard on 2nd December, 2019
When the Palmerston North Choral Society sang the Amen Chorus from Messiah, the audience rose to its feet. Saturday night’s centennial Messiah deserved the generous ovation.
The society, conducted by Alison Stewart, gave an impressive performance, accompanied by members of the Manawatu Sinfonia. The 70-strong choir sang with precision. They were tuneful, blended well and attentive. There were times when the tenors lacked punch and the sopranos were vocally stretched, but they knew their music and delivered a quality sound to a large audience.
Stewart deserves special praise for achieving the delicate balance between the singers and the Handelian orchestra, led by Gillian Gibb. Glory to God, And with His Stripes, Hallelujah, Worthy Is The Lamb and Amen were satisfying and secure. The choir was challenged when delivering the more extreme contrapuntal choruses. The sinfonia produced a pure sound with accuracy and clarity from the strings. There was an occasional uncertain entry, but overall it was a convincing performance.
I enjoyed the rapport between cello continuo, Sasha Routh, and bassoons. Janey Mackenzie sang Come Unto Him with e|ortless grace, while David Morriss’s sonorous People That Walked In Darkness exposed his soul as well as his voice. He had an inspired connection with brilliant trumpeter, Hiro Kobayashi, in The Trumpet Shall Sound. Ellen Barrett gave a sincere and expressive He Was Despised, and John Beaglehole had a clean and dexterous baroque voice. Stewart, almost minimalist at times with her conducting, delivered an assured performance, worthy of a society celebrating its centenary.