Review: Messiah, Wetherby Choral Society

John Dunford
John Dunford

Wetherby’s St James’ Parish Church was filled almost to capacity for this year’s performance of Handel’s Messiah by Wetherby Choral Society under its conductor and musical director, John Dunford.

It is a great tribute to Handel’s power of communication and excellence of writing that this work still attracts such large audiences even after more than 270 years since its first performance.

As is customary, the Wetherby Pro Musica orchestra led by Eric Clark accompanied the performance and demonstrated their crisp excellence of playing from the first bars of the Overture.

The well-chosen line-up of soloists comprised Bibi Heal, soprano, who sang a beautiful and glittering rendering of Rejoice Greatly as well as a very well controlled and expressive I know that my Redeemer liveth.

Sarah Richmond, mezzo-soprano, brought to the evening a rich and warm voice, perfect for O Thou that Tellest and How Beautiful are the Feet.

Christopher Trenholme, tenor, sang with warm lyrical tone; Comfort Ye was delivered with smooth elegance and yet we heard a fire in the voice for Thou Shalt Break Them which was sung with powerful determination.

Matthew Kellett, bass-baritone, used the gravity and authority in his voice to good effect especially in Thus Saith the Lord, Why do the Nations and The Trumpet Shall Sound.

The singers in the Choral Society sang with passion and clarity a tribute to the standard of preparation during rehearsals and were always brilliantly in tune. The excellent orchestral ensemble was well balanced and clearly and expressively directed by John Dunford.

It was lovely to hear Messiah so well performed and also to hear some of the less frequently heard items from Handel’s score included during the evening.

Our thanks must go to all the musicians who provided us with a wonderful evening of great music.