Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

IBO Messiah in Georgian Splendour

The late Eric DeCourcy 
In my youth, I was a member of  Waterford Orchestral Players, A major part of the repertoire then was oratorio and there was an annual performance in one or other of the Georgian cathedrals. I remember playing Haydn's Creation, Handel's Samson, Mendelssohn's Elijah and of course Messiah with Eric de Courcy conducting  and Fintan O Carroll leading.  It was great training. Opportunities to play Handel's most popular work have been frequent since and always welcome. It was a rare experience though  to actually sit in the audience pews myself but an opportunity to hear the Irish Baroque Orchestra on my doorstep could not be passed up. The performance was part of the Symphony Club of Waterford series.

Under the direction of Eamonn Dougan of the English vocal group The Sixteen, The  Irish Baroque Orchestra, leader Claire Duff with 16 voice Resurgam |Choir presented a lithe and graceful reading of Handel's masterwork in which the poetry in Jennens libretto was allowed to shine.
 I am not a devotee of period instruments and don't ooh and aah over curvy bows and gut strings but I did enjoy the clarity  of the performing style. Although the soloists were all very good, it was the relatively inexperienced youngsters, Sinead O Kelly and Eamonn Mulhall who best matched the nimbleness of the instrumental ensemble  The tenor aria Behold and See with the preceding recitative Thy Rebuke Hath Broken His Heart was a highlight. Soprano aria How Beautiful are the Feet of Him was effortless and beautiful. Just how sparing Handel was in in his deployment of trumpets and drums surprised me. Owen Gilhooly and , Anne Marie Gibbons, both seasoned operatic performers lacked a bit of heft in the lower register  of their arias being more mezzo and baritone rather than bass and contralto.  Owen Gilhooly's rousing  delivery of the  bass aria, The Trumpet Shall Sound with was terrific getting right to the heart of the text. The acoustics in this John Robert designed Georgian space were very sympathetic to the forces.  Excellent * * * *

Sinead O Kelly 
Anne-Marie Gibbons (mezzo),
Eamonn Mulhall (tenor),
Owen Gilhooly (baritone)
with Resurgam choir. 

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