Following their recent outstanding successful performance of Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony, Wetherby Choral Society recently gave its traditional performance of Handel’s Messiah under their Conductor John Dunford, accompanied by Wetherby Pro Musica.
The Overture quickly demonstrated the clarity of playing which characterises this group of 18 players led ably by the Leader of the orchestra, Christine Brown.
The opening Adagio was stately and neatly dotted while the following Allegro was briskly played with crystal clear part-playing.
The soloists for the occasion turned out to be somewhat unusual. Matthew Kellett, the Bass soloist sang beautifully, opening with the recitative and aria, For Behold and The People that Walked in Darkness with resonant splendour. Sadly, his voice had winter troubles and later, when it came to The Trumpet Shall Sound, his place was taken by the Conductor, John Dunford, who was officially the Tenor soloist.
Such is the range, flexibility and adaptability of John Dunford’s vocal ability that he filled in perfectly but when he reached the words We Shall be Changed, Matthew Kellett rose and sang the final few bars – a neat change indeed!
John’s own solos were, of course, particularly well sung, beginning with the aria Every Valley which was taken at a fairly brisk pace. Later in the evening, his rendering of Thou Shalt Break Them was sung with power and a degree of vehemence well suited to this item.
Sarah Ogden, Soprano had a sweet and mellow voice and gave a good account of Rejoice Greatly and a beautifully measured performance of the jewel of any of Messiah I know that my Redeemer Liveth.
The role of the Alto soloist in Messiah is quite small but vitally important and Hannah Johnstone, Alto, had sufficient gravity in her voice to make her mark in But who may Abide and He was Despised.
This performance really belonged to the Wetherby Pro Musica under their leader Christine Brown and the Wetherby Choral Society who together played and sang with enormous enthusiasm. The playing in all sections of the orchestra was extremely good, the clarity in woodwind and trumpets was exemplary. The part-singing in the Choir was lovely, the singing well enunciated. HJ