The last thing Music Director Edward Polochick did after his performance of Messiah was hold up Handel’s great score. What a composer! What a score! What a performance by Concert Artists of Baltimore Symphonic Chorale and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra lead by Ed Polochick!
Concert Artists of Baltimore have performed Messiah every year now for about 30 years. Last night’s performance felt as though it was the first time and yet as if it had been performed forever by Concert Artists and the BSO. It felt fresh yet deliciously comfortable and suede worn. The chorus was spectacular and beautifully nuanced, the orchestra seemed energetic and fit and each of the soloists was a stand out and just right to sing Handel’s Messiah.
Tenor, Nicholas Phan gave a thoughtful performance with a combination of a nice voice and great diction. Soprano, Karen Clift delivered some uplifting high notes within a beautifully subtle overall performance. Baritone, Stephen Powell’s The Trumpet Shall Sound blew me away in the power of his voice and dramatic performance. Speaking of drama, mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó evoked terror one moment then heart ache the next. Of all the singers she was the most compelling to me. There was something about her articulation and phrasing that moved me.
A great performance of a familiar work like Handel’s Messiah can sometimes joggle my brain and illuminate something that had never occurred to me. For instance where did Handel get all the great biblical texts? The English scholar and arts patron, Charles Jennens put together texts for a number of compositions by Handel including Saul, Israel in Egypt, L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Belshazzar and Messiah. Clever man! Clever Handel for joining the texts together with his great music as if both were inextricably bound together.
Yes, I love that Handel’s Messiah is a Christmas and Easter tradition to be counted upon, that it’s so familiar and to stand for the Hallelujah Chorus; but it’s even more special when that great oratorio is given a performance like last night’s. Halleluja!
Baltimore Symphony, Concert Artists of Baltimore, Edward Polochick, Halleluja, Handel, Messiah