Audio Assessment: New York Philharmonic’s ‘Messiah’ at Avery Fisher Hall

December 20th, 2013

Tina Fineberg for The New York Moments

New York Philharmonic The soprano Jo?lle Harvey and the conductor Andrew Manze with the orchestra in “Messiah” at Avery Fisher Hall.

May I just ask: Had been you a single of the two dozen or so viewers customers who stampeded out of Tuesday night’s New York Philharmonic functionality of Handel’s “Messiah” right soon after the “Hallelujah”? Simply because if so, I feel it incumbent on me to tell you: You skipped the best bits.

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Or perhaps you caught the beginning of Jo?lle Harvey’s beautiful rendition of “I know that my Redeemer liveth” and marveled, as the doorways to the Avery Fisher Hall auditorium banged shut following you, how evenly weighted her liquid soprano remained across the aria’s large interval jumps. Had you hailed a taxi by the time Matthew Muckey’s honeyed trumpet drew dazzling ornaments about Matthew Rose’s soaring bass in “The trumpet shall sound”?

Effectively, not to worry. We no for a longer time dwell in the times of Handel, when contemporaries have been scandalized at an oratorio primarily based on scripture being performed, as The Universal Spectator wrote ahead of the work’s London premiere in 1743, “for Diversion and Amusement only” rather than as “an Act of Religion.”

Tuesday’s stirring overall performance by the Philharmonic with the Westminster Symphonic Choir, underneath the assured direction of the British conductor Andrew Manze, laid no pretense to becoming a spiritual ritual. But even on purely musical phrases, Handel’s endlessly inventive and skillfully wrought rating deserves a entire listening to. (Indeed, which is also a light trace to the gentleman who cough-bombed the mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford’s ravishing rendition of “He was despised,” inadvertently creating that aria about him.)

If I was specifically sensitive to this sort of interruptions on Tuesday, it’s because this was a “Messiah” above all memorable for its solos. The quartet of exceptional soloists was unusually well well balanced and provided, in addition to Ms. Harvey, Ms. Mumford and Mr. Rose, the British tenor Allan Clayton, whose burnished audio and rapidly, slim vibrato enlivened both the extraordinary and tender recitatives and arias.

Ms. Harvey’s luminous soprano was nicely cast in the pastoral passages as properly as in the carefully lilting melody of “How stunning are the toes.” Ms. Mumford’s dusky, warm mezzo extra secret to “But who may abide,” the place a entire complement of cellos and basses added further depth to the continuo portion.

The choir sang with a finely balanced seem and crisp diction. Mr. Manze drew a heat-bodied and agile performance from the Philharmonic gamers that brought out the rich textures and contours of Handel’s rating.

The New York Philharmonic performs Handel’s “Messiah” through Saturday at Avery Fisher Corridor, Lincoln Center 212-875-5656,

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