Monday, December 7, 2009


     Yesterday (Sunday December 6) I went to the Handel and Haydn Society's performance of Handel's "Messiah" at Symphony Hall in Boston. They performed music from Messiah as part of their first concert, on Christmas, 1815; the first complete performance of Messiah in the United States on Christmas, 1818;and they've performed the whole oratorio every year beginning in 1854. So they should be pretty good at it. And they are. They do "Historically informed perfomances," meaning that they use instruments like those of Handel's day, and a small orchestra (24 players) and chorus (30 singers).

     Unfortunately, I realized after the concert that I was approaching it more as a musical than as a religious event. Musically, it was satisfying, although the soloists didn't have much power on their low notes. But it didn't notice anything unattractive about the singing and playing.

     The program states that "The performances are being recorded for broadcast locally on 99.5 FM All Classical (a service of WGBH) on December 20 and will be featured nationally on American Public Media's Performance Today." (I don't have a link for APM, but I'm sure you can find them easily enough.) They don't say what time the 99.5 FM broadcast will be, but I'm confident it will be either 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. So if you follow the link, you should be able to hear their webstream.

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