CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


> St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

Handel's Messiah is a true classic. Dating from the 18th century and unmistakably written in the style of the period, it still strikes home today. Though many of us must have heard or performed it dozens of times, the unfolding of the great spiritual drama maintains tension until the end when The Trumpet Shall Sound.

It did so with grand conviction as Jeremy White came to the climax of his resonant interpretation of the bass arias. The other soloists were not cast in quite the same mould. Younger, less experienced and vocally not so generously endowed, Elenor Bowers-Jolley, Eleanor White and Jonathan Bungard opted for discretion. They chose to make their points with meekness, elegance and some attractive ornamentation.

With the UEA Symphony Orch-estra led by Efthymios Papatzikis providing crisp accompaniment, conductor Howard Williams drew from the UEA Choir an attractive performance. Avoiding the temptations of the monumental manner, he kept speeds quite brisk and the tone generally light. This meant that when the right moments came to release reserves of power, impact was made without strain or forcing. This meant the choruses of Part II were especially persuasive.

It was, however, a pity that the sopranos, like the tenor soloist, had some problems with top notes that are not really so very high.

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The overall effect was strong, as it always is. Not everyone respected the agreeable old tradition of rising for the Hallelujah chorus, but a burst of applause showed Handel and the UEA musicians had scored again.

Finally, I must apologise to the audience in the West Gallery for my troublesome cough.

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