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An abridged Messiah used to be every other terrific night from Laurence Equilbey, her choir and orchestra – Noticed and Heard Global


FranceFrance Handel, Messiah (abridged): Marie Lys (soprano), Paul-Antoine Bénos-Djian (countertenor), Stuart Jackson (tenor), Alex Rosen (bass), accentus, Insula Orchestra / Laurence Equilbey (conductor). Auditorium Patrick Devedjian, Los angeles Seine Musicale, Paris, 5.12.2023. (CC)

Laurence Equilbey conducts accentus and the Insula Orchestra

This reasonably abridged Messiah – one period, 2 hours 20 mins roughly – introduced a refreshing tackle a piece that has lengthy been a seasonal favorite in the UK. With the certain, transparent strains of accentus (maximum lately heard in Sky Burial on the Barbican: assessment right here), excellent readability from the instrumental ensemble and an total conception that introduced this paintings in combination as hardly ever prior to, this used to be a fantastic night.

The streamlined model did imply some reasonably huge cuts from the second one section (plus some omissions from the flanking portions additionally), however the consequence used to be eminently enjoyable musically.

Unfortunately, the scheduled soprano soloist, Sandine Piau, cancelled on the 11th hour – it used to be excellent good fortune, even though that Marie Lys used to be to be had at such quick understand. As lately as this summer time I reported on Lys with Christophe Rousset and his Les Talens Lyriques within the very good Ave Maris Stella programme at Baroque Itinéraire. She is an up-and-coming singer who has already made her mark the world over, together with Clorinda in Rossini’s Los angeles Cenerentola in Switzerland. She sings with a freshness and purity this is outstanding. Many, myself amongst them, would possibly have come for Piau, however there used to be no retrospective musical unhappiness in any respect. Lys used to be like a ray of sunshine within the duet in opposition to the tip of Section One (‘Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened …’). Her ‘I do know that my Redeemer liveth’ (from the 3rd and ultimate section) used to be gloriously natural and heartfelt. Insula’s phraseology on this ultimate used to be stuffed with grace – the very best partnership.

Countertenor Paul-Antoine Bénos-Djian has a novel, darkish, fruity sound however there appears to be one thing of a wreck in his voice that makes the intense lowest finish of the countertenor sign up timbrally disjunct from the remainder. He took ‘However who would possibly abide’ on this efficiency (it may be sung additionally by way of soprano or bass), however he gave the impression much less subtle in supply than his soloistic partners there and total.

Tenor Stuart Jackson took a virtually operatic view of his solos, stuffed with drama and, certainly, gesture. Alex Rosen is a advantageous, transparent bass of superb pitching and assault, simply missing within the ultimate iota of personality that, say, Ashley Riches (a stalwart of this section); ‘Why do the countries so furiously rage in combination’.

The readability of accentus is outstanding, their sound infinitely malleable. How shiny the choir sounded whilst handing over ‘For unto us a kid is born’ with pinpoint accuracy after the palpable shadows of Rosen’s ‘The folk that walked in darkness’. On the different finish of the dimensions, their ‘Since by way of guy got here loss of life’ used to be a second of darkish stillness (with little accessory at the phrase ‘Demise’) – a plateau of sound that contrasted maximally to the Corinthians-derived textual content ‘even so in Christ shall all be made alive’.

However for the entire excellence of the person soloists and the trivia of element and stability, the one maximum notable component of this efficiency used to be Laurence Equilbey’s conception. There used to be a markedly other emotional territory for every section, with the second one forged in in particular darkish hues. The overall refrain, ‘Worthy is the Lamb’ carried a lot pomp, nevertheless it used to be the fugal ‘Amen’ that topped the efficiency completely, shorn of any needless heaviness, sparkling brightly.

A malleable continuo team helped in that shading, with in particular clever use manufactured from the lute (André Henrich). And it will be not possible to conclude and not using a point out of the trumpet solo, played by way of Serge Tizac, who introduced a extra nuanced view of the section than that introduced, in my revel in, the United Kingdom’s omnipresent David Blackadder.

This used to be an impressive night. A pity many of the row in entrance of me took it upon themselves to document huge chunks of the primary section in spite of a transparent announcement on the contrary; all credit score to the usher who, upon prompting, taken care of this out firmly and successfully. And thank goodness bottoms remained resolutely glued to seats all over the ‘Hallelujah’ refrain – the old-fashioned, interruptive follow of status in UK performances does extra hurt than excellent.

Insula triumphs once more, then. The New 12 months brings a go back of Yoann Bourgeois’s imagining of the Mozart Requiem (my 2019 assessment right here) and – the person who in reality piques passion – Schubert’s Fourth Symphony (one of the most composer’s less-performed symphonies) and Emilie Mayer’s Symphony No.1. A good quantity of Meyer’s tune has been recorded by way of the cpo label, together with a disc of her first two symphonies, and the recordings point out masses to sit up for.

Colin Clarke

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