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Thursday, 14 December 2017

Christmas roundup: Messiah and the Christmas Oratorio

Part of "Worthy is the Lamb", the final chorus of Messiah by Handel, from the composer's autograph score
Part of "Worthy is the Lamb", the final chorus of Messiah by Handel, from the composer's autograph score
Christmas, of course, is the season of Messiah (except that Handel wrote the work as a Lenten oratorio and the piece deals with Christ's birth, ministry and passion). As usual there is a wide selection of Messiah performances on offer in London. No-one this year seems to be doing a particular version of the piece, all are offering the standard edition based on the Messiah performances late in Handel's life.

But there are performances by candlelight (St Martin the Fields & Royal Festival Hall), performances on period instruments (Kings Place, St James's Piccadilly, Barbican, St John's Smith Square), a performance with massed choirs (Royal Albert Hall), and of course a wide range of soloists on offer with a nice array of young singers.

And interestingly, this year there is a rash of performances of Bach's Chrismas Oratorio, with performances ranging from the Dunedin Consort at the Wigmore Hall (small scale, period instrument) to the London Philharmonic at the Royal Festival Hall (large scale, modern instrument). If you want to hear the work complete with all six cantatas then it is the LPO for you, all other performances offer a selection.

Full listings after the break:



Handel Messiah

Kings Place 14/12
The Hanover Band and Chorus, Andrew Arthur
Erica Eloff, Timothy Morgan, Bradley Smith, Tristan Hambleton
St Martin in the Fields 15 & 16/12
English Chamber Choir, Belmont Ensemble, Peter Dyson
Elizabeth Weisberg, Cathy Bell, Graham Neal, James Gower
By Candlelight, Sold Out
Royal Festival Hall 15/12
City of London Choir, Mozart Festival Orchestra, Hilary Davan Wetton
Jennifer France, Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, Nick Pritchard, George Humphreys
By Candlelight
St James's Church, Piccadilly 16/12
Six Centuries Chamber Choir, Linden Baroque, Peter Fender
Helen Semple, Carris Jones, John Upperton, Bartholomew Lawrence
By Candlelight
Royal Albert Hall 19/12
Goldsmiths Choral Union, English Concert Chorus, Highgate Choral Society, The London Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Brian Wright
Ailish Tynan, Renata Pokupic, Toby Spence, Willard White
Massed Choirs
Barbican Hall 20/12
Academy of Ancient Music, Richard Egarr
Mary Bevan, Reginald Mobley, Thomas Hobbs, Christopher Purves
St John's Smith Square 23/12Polyphony, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Stephen Layton
Anna Dennis, Helen Charlston, Gwilym Bowen, Matthew Brook


Bach Christmas Oratorio

Wigmore Hall 16/12
Dunedin Consort, John Butt
Nos 1, 4, 5, 6
Royal Festival Hall 16/12London Philharmonic Choir, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowsky
Maria Keohane, Anke Vondung, Jeremy Ovenden, Stephan Loges
All six cantatas
Kings Place 20/12
London Bach Singers, Feinstein Ensemble, Martin Feinstein
Fay Newton, Tim Travers Brown, Charles Daniels, Ben Davies
Saffron Hall 21/12& St John's Smith Square 22/12
Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, OAE, Stephen Layton
Anna Dennis, Helen Charlston, Gwilym Bowen, Matthew Brook
Nos 1, 2, 3, 6

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