Little wonder Simon Lindley says the Sheffield Bach Choir’s singing of the choruses Handel’s oratorio impresses him. For the third year running the final Amen prompted an instantaneous standing ovation.
Entirely merited: sopranos soaring, it was absolutely superb choral singing. Mind you, it had hardly been un-noteworthy before. The choir live the choruses; they are in each member’s blood.
You can see in faces, the full-blooded commitment and hear it in the unfailingly accurate, rhythmic execution with due regard for shading and dynamics.
Simon Lindley himself must take some credit for much of the latter. His inspiring direction since becoming the choir’s conductor has reawakened what had been lying dormant since the glory days of Roger Bullivant with startling success.
There wasn’t a better example here of the man clearly wallowing in Handel’s music without a score in front of him and his choir magnificently responding than at Let all the angels of God worship him.
There was another incorrigible, unashamedly operatic rendition of the tenor soloist’s music from Ben Thapa. He did, however, go very close to completely OTT with Comfort Ye on this occasion.
Countertenor David Allsopp’s more conventional, but still deeply felt singing of the alto’s music was marvellous with impeccable intonation and scrupulously clean vocal ornamentation.
Keeping it simple, so to speak, was the gentle soprano singing of Philippa Hyde. It’s not a big voice but is beautifully focussed and well projected; ditto, Matthew Palmer’s essentially baritone voice, certainly at this stage in his young career. He shirked nothing and convincingly sang everything with huge confidence.
Sally Robinson, leader of the excellent National Festival Orchestra, handled all her violin obbligato work admirably, and wherever the shade of George Swindells – to whom the performance was dedicated – might be, it would doubtless have been smiling with satisfaction.