Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trinity Cathedral: Handel's Messiah (Abridged, Sing Along Version)

Upon the suggestion of my violin teacher I made my way downtown to Trinity Cathedral for a long lunch today. The program? The church's "something-ith annual" Messiah Sing.

Today's performance was markedly more enjoyable; yet it's still not a piece that I feel any particular fondness for. Aside from the "For Unto Us" and "Hallelujah" courses it simply doesn't move me or hold as much of my attention as I would prefer.

The differences between this incarnation and the version I heard on Saturday were great but I don't endeavor to make a pure apples-to-apples comparison between the two. For one, while the Cleveland Orchestra presented a nearly-complete rendition, this one was significantly abridged. Both have their merits, but I got the point with the abridged version (and otherwise would have been even later back to the office).

The biggest improvement came in the soloists' department. While I couldn't see them to compare body language, there was no doubt as to what language they were singing in (as I initially had at the orchestra's performance), and there wasn't the incessant warbling that grated on my ears.

Generally, the atmosphere was more festive and genial; the music was well-played but had a much "lighter" feeling. Between the acoustics of the cathedral and the fact that you couldn't help but to find yourself surrounded by dozens of singers there was a much more jubilant feeling in the air; true surround sound. Almost as if one were a funeral service and the other was wedding. Based on what I learned about the origins of the piece the point can certainly made that to be historically accurate it should not be jubilant... but the jubilance certainly pushes it in the direction of being enjoyable.

(For the record, I didn't sing. I am sure this simple fact contributed to the enjoyment of many this afternoon.)

I'm still having a hard time getting myself into the "Christmas Spirit" though; hopefully the next two days of holiday concerts at Severance Hall can help break my funk.


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