City of Birmingham Choir Messiah review

AN EARLY CHRISTMAS TREAT FOR MAGGIE COTTON


MESSIAH
City of Birmingham Choir and CBSO at Symphony Hall ****

A goodly crowd turned up at Symphony Hall both on stage and in the audience, anticipating Handel's well-loved Messiah); an early Christmas specialty for everyone.
This wonderful work has stood the test of time through endless interpretations, but it is always a delight to hear professionals from the CBSO giving their all (e.g. flowing continuo=playing from principal cello and double bass.) Conductor Adrian Lucas highlighted keenness from the large City of Birmingham Choir, although at times diction could have been clearer in Birmingham's sympathetic Symphony Hall – famed for its first-rate acoustics.
Tenor Ben Thapa was positively operatic, with much weaving about, seemingly enjoying interpreting Handel (alongside his inspiring 'other hat' of running marathons and raising charity funds!) Totally thought-provoking. Well-travelled baritone Jolyon Loy truly entered the spirit of the music but one suspected that inadequate rehearsal time was a worry for the four soloists. No microphones used today therefore too many consonants were disappointingly blurred or missing. Perhaps alto Susanna Spicer needed more time be more comfortable with her carefully- prepared solos – lovely, but again, balance not ideal. Sarah Fox solo soprano, was more central and connected with the audience, but one suspected not enough rehearsal time with no ears 'out front' checking the overall effect.
However I am sure that we all - audience and performers thoroughly enjoyed this special pre-Christmas treat as we cheerfully stood for the Hallelujah Chorus – some of us secretly joining in.
Maggie Cotton

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