The Boris Brott Autumn Music Festival ended Monday evening with a
performance of Handel's Messiah in Centenary United Church that was imported wholesale, ready to listen to, no cooking needed, just unwrap and admire perfection.
With no local choir ready to surrender their Christmas season to the National Academy Orchestra's annual performance of Messiah, Brott, himself in sunny Italy conducting, had Wayne Strongman take over the reins of the Elmer Iseler Singers, his orchestra and a star cast of soloists.
This was gourmet, vintage musicmaking with just a hint that all concerned could do this backwards, in fact, just lick the stamp and mail it in if required...
And the sound: Just 24 superb singers made the church's rafters ring with a pure, free, gorgeous vocal tone that had the hair on the back of the neck rise whether skimming through And He Shall Purify, giving out with thunderous Wonderfuls and Conselors or weaving rhythmic and harmonic magic, with, it might be added, pristine diction that delivered the text to every corner of the packed church, through chorus after chorus.
The soloists were worthy of these lambs...
Tenor Mark DuBois was strong and also brilliant in delivering text and emotion.
He has a penchant for decorating his lines, perfectly authentic in every way, of course, that seems at times almost an improvisation on a theme by Handel.
That is only an impression, of course, but I do prefer a slightly less-free approach. His singing, though, is just captivating...
Hugh Fraser is an award-winning critic, who has been reviewing music for more than 20 years.