Opera Scotland

Messiah 2024Dundee Choral Union

Read more about the opera Messiah

We are used to performnces of Messiah being given around the Christmas and New Year period, so it makes a change to hear it at Easter.  It is a few years now since Dundee Choral Union last performed it - indeeed the last time was, astonishingly, in 2007.

Derek Clark, though now retired from his position with Scottish Opera's music staff, was still able to bring the company's superb orchestra.  The perormance, on modern instruments, still showed elements of period style.  There were elements of solo instrumentation that were hugely attractive. The solo singers also introduced an appropriate degree of ornamentation of the vocal line - never exaggerated, and always in good taste.

First of the soloists, at least in terms of seniority, was tenor Jamie MacDougall.  Back at the start of his career he sang Handel frequently, and made his reputation appearing in several recordings of rare oratorios.  His first appearance with DCU was in this same work as long ago as 1992.  It is good to report that, while his tone has undoubtedly dried out a bit in the intervening three decades, he was still able to sing the part fluently, with appropriately heroic elements when required. Indeed, he appeared here most recently in November in Schumann's fascinating cantata Paradise and the Peri, when it was clear that his vocal resources were undiminished.

Heather Ireson last sang here four years back when parts of Bach's huge Christmas Oratorio were performed.  She was particularly impressive in ''He was despised'', but also used a lighter tone in ''O thou that tellest'.

Jonathan Forbes Kennedy, in his debut in this hall, gave an impressive contribution

The soprano, Jessica Leary, was the most consistently beautiful of the solo quartet.  Her rendering of ''Rejoice greatly included some tactful ornamention, with a beautiful creamy toe throughout.  ''I know that my redeemer liveth was every bit as good.  Perhaps the climax of her performance was slightly unexpected.  Her valedictory ''If God be for us'' featured beautiful contributions from solo violin and cello.

In all, this was an impressive performance of the great work, completely justifying the opening out of cuts.  It didn't seem a moment too long.

Performance DatesMessiah 2024

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Caird Hall | Dundee

17 Mar, 19.30

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