The Messiah in Harrogate

I refuse to hear the Messiah every year, because over-familiarity can spoil its impact. Also, during the Hallelujah Chorus I stubbornly remain seated because I find the tradition of standing to be silly. Nevertheless at the Harrogate Royal Hall performance, I was again overwhelmed by the beauty and brilliance of the work: Handel’s musical imagination was so fertile. The Harrogate Choral Society, slightly reduced in numbers because of a bug, rose to the challenge with enthusiasm and commitment and the Manchester Camerata, after a stodgy last outing with the choir, was back in form. Andrew Padmore was, as ever, in firm control of his forces. Among the soloists, the bass Stephen Gadd, a late replacement for Duncan Rock, impressed with his heroic tones and intelligent characterisation of the text. Lynda-Jane Nelson has a rich contralto voice and will surely go far.