Monday, 4 December 2006

The Goose is getting fat

Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent which means that we start the liturgical run up to Christmas. (Technically it is the first Sunday in the church's year). At St. Mary's Church, Cadogan Street, musically this means that we lose the organ until Midnight mass (except for the 3rd Sunday in Advent) and change to a different version of the plainchant for the Credo. This latter has a couple of tricky traps for the unwary, which are apt to trip you up the first time you sing it after a significant break.

Of course, these musical changes are simply meant to reflect the nature of Advent as the church prepares for Christmas and reflects on the past year. Advent is not strictly a penitential season, but it certainly isn't a laugh a minute. Which of course, is all the more annoying when you consider how in secular life, the fripperies of Christmas are constantly advancing.

Our concert going life is starting to reflect the coming of Christmas as well. On Sunday we're going to see Messiah at the Barbican, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. A bit of a risk, the cast has impeccable credentials (Susan Gritton, Sara Mingardo, Mark Padmore, Alistair Miles) but they are accompanied by the London Symphony Choir and Orchestra conducted by Sir Colin Davies. I have no problem with large scale Handel performances. In the past, Davies has proved himself a moving interpreter of baroque music. But balance is always an issue and modern conductors seem disinclined to increase the number of wind instruments to balance strings and choir in the way that a contemporary of Handel would.

Just to complete things, we're off to see Bach's Christmas Oratorio as well next week. This time its William Christie, to the performance style will be very different to that of Sir Colin Davies. Well, that's the snap judgement. It will be interesting to see how the 2 performances compare in reality.

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