“What is the collective noun for Messiahs? There seem to be a lot of them around at this time of year! This was probably the largest I’ve heard for some time, with the massed ranks of Truro Choral Society augmented by the choirs of the three local senior schools – over 200 voices in all. Rehearsals must have been fun.
It’s always good to welcome back David Webb, and his ‘Comfort ye’, expressive and judiciously decorated, set the tone for a vigorous interpretation – bass George Humphreys (also currently in Jonathan Miller’s production of The Mikado at the Coliseum – such versatility!) gave the heavens a really thorough shaking, and mezzo Felicity Turner’s dramatic ‘refiner’s fire’ was equally spirited. Cornish soprano Lydia Mee, in her debut with TCS, was understandably a little hesitant at first, but grew in confidence, her performance culminating with a radiant ‘I know that my redeemer liveth’.
Martin Palmer’s direction of the large choir produced some fine effects – a sprightly ‘For unto us’, and a splendid sequence of five vividly contrasted choruses in Part Two, interspersed with Felicity Turner’s exquisite ‘He was despised’ and David Webb’s clear narrative passages. The chorus coped well with some brisk speeds – ‘Hallelujah’ almost too fast – and were rock-solid in their many fugal episodes. As always, great orchestral accompaniment, with the added bonus of harpsichord (Joseph O’Berry) plus chamber organ (Luke Bond, who also sprinted upstairs to the Father Willis for extra volume).
I always moan about items being cut, but appreciate the need – two and a half hours plus interval, otherwise – but Part One really does need to end with a chorus, and it didn’t (lose half a star for that!). I always miss the ‘middle bit’ of ‘The trumpet shall sound’ – no one ever does it – but what a treat it was to hear George Humphreys and solo trumpet Imogen Hancock. The trumpets were back at the periphery for the final chorus, which sounded simply glorious, with a truly massive crescendo and deceleration at the close that shouldn’t have worked but did – ‘Amen’ to that!”
Judith Whitehouse, West Briton