- G.F. Handel - Messiah
- Bach Choir Pretoria
- Bruno Peyer
- Unisa Auditorium
THE Bach Choir sang Handel's Messiah as if the story of Christ were altogether unremarkable.
Their tone and balance were good, and their soft singing was lovely, but in trying to avoid the "oppressive weightiness" which they condemn in performances of this work by larger choirs, they avoided feeling altogether.
They sang too smoothly, too legato. There was so little stressing in"And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,"for example, that they could have been singing about the comforting glories of some new baby-care product.
They confused quiet singing and light singing. Sung lightly,"For unto us a child is born"can still be charged with excitement. Sung their way it was limp, and though they sang those triumphant words"Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God,"quite loudly, they sang them with no animation, no punch.
Only their"Since by man came death"made any impression on me. For the rest, though they did little to offend, they did little to move one either.
In fact, if it were not for the two male soloists, Sjoerd Beute and Bruce Martin, the evening would not survive a day in one's memory.
Sjoerd Beute's interpretation was intelligent and musical, his technique secure and effortless, and he has presence.
Bruce Martinis at least as accomplished an oratorio singer.
The rich power of his marvellous voice gave the evening its one really thrilling spell in"The trumpet shall sound"; and he had a worthy partner in the trumpet soloist.
Anneen Leeuwner, the soprano, was at her best in quieter passages in her middle and lower registers; her"Come unto him"was very beautiful. But when she turned up the volume her vibrato became too pronounced and on the higher notes was a little painful.
Stella Beder, contralto could be heard easily against the harpsichord, but not against the orchestra. Her performance was quite pleasing, but her tone was thick, as if the back of her tongue were bottling the sound in her throat.
The Bach Choir has ability and theCollegium Musicum Orchestrais already good. With a greater sense of the enormity of the story they are telling they could become worthy of telling it.