Handel - Messiah - Northampton Cathedral

Northampton Cathedral was the venue for my only complete Messiah performance this December. I played with the choir and orchestra of Fiori Musicali with their Director Penelope Rapson.

Some years ago Handel’s Messiah seemed to be, almost exclusively, the only piece that I was asked to perform at this time of year. At the moment it seems to be slightly less common for me to have a solely Messiah-filled December. Last year saw a mixture of music by Bach, HandelLullyTelemann and others and this year has also been rather varied.

Handel’s Messiah seems to be no less popular with audiences, and it certainly is an enjoyable Christmas tradition. This performance on Friday 21st December 2018 was played to a full audience at Northampton Cathedral. There were wonderful movements from the soloists: Katy Hill (soprano), Robert Cross (countertenor), Edmund Hastings (tenor) and James Birchall (Bass). I really enjoyed performing The Trumpet Shall Sound with the latter. The continuo players did an excellent job throughout: Poppy Walshaw (cello), Carina Cosgrave (bass), Sally Holman (bassoon) and Penelope Rapson (harpsichord).

The third part included some of the often-cut movements (Then shall be brought to pass, O death where is thy sting?, But thanks be to God, and, If God be for us), which allows a luxurious amount of time to recover after The Trumpet Shall Sound before Worthy is the Lamb.

This performance marked a chequered flag for me at the end of a busy and very fulfilling season of concerts, featuring music mostly by Bach and Handel. Since returning from a five-week tour of Southeast Asia with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, December has included appearances in Nottingham, London, Glyndebourne, Versailles, San Sebastián, Luxembourg and Hampton Court Palace. It has been a very enjoyable year and I look forward to a final performance with Chronicles on the Isle of Man on 28th December. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

Russell Gilmour
Russell Gilmour Blog
writing on music, photography, engraving, travel and life as a freelance professional musician.