Star rating – 8/10
After my slightly bah humbug theatre review this week, I was looking forward to a performance of Handel’s Messiah performed at Manchester Cathedral by Manchester Baroque to dispense some festive cheer. And I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed.
It speaks volumes of the charm and beauty of this fitting venue, as the same Christmas favourite was being performed across town at the admittedly acoustically superior Bridgewater Hall on the same night, but the cathedral event was a sell out. But no matter how great a concert hall is, it cannot replace the magic and majesty of a church setting for Handel’s masterpiece. The night was cold, the church was not much warmer, and I tried to banish all thoughts of mulled wine from the alluring Christmas market stalls outside, and settled down for a real treat of a performance.
The orchestra and choir were tremendous, and the soloists were excellent. I was particularly impressed with baritone Terence Ayebare, who in addition to being a sublime singer, with a touch of the great Paul Robeson in his voice, has a very interesting and eclectic past. He trained as an electrical engineer in Uganda before he was given the chance for his musical talent to blossom in Glasgow and Manchester. That must be a great story to tell.
And obviously the high point of the Hallelujah Chorus was fantastic and moving. This was a fitting start to my Christmastime, with the real spirit of Christmas, rather than the crass commercialism of the nearby malls in these straitened economic times.