VOCAL FESTIVAL Handel: Messiah YMCA, July 12

NFM CHOIR from Wroclaw. (photo credit: LUKASZ RAJCHER)
NFM CHOIR from Wroclaw.
(photo credit: LUKASZ RAJCHER)
Handel, in his oratorio, performed by the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra with the Polish NFM Choir, conducted by David Shemer, as part of the Vocal Festival does not portray the Messiah as a religious and fanatic leader intending to find a new religion, but as a disappointed and frustrated human being, whose idealistic actions and sayings are “despised and rejected” by the corrupt religious establishment.
One cannot help wondering whether if the real Messiah appeared today, he would not be treated in the same manner – perhaps not crucified, because this custom has gone out of fashion, but possibly confined to a lunatic asylum, which amounts to about the same.
This performance tended to focus not on the religious or formal aspect of the Messiah, but on his human tragedy.
The NFM Choir sounded as genuinely emotional as only a choir can be. The exuberant joy of its “For unto us a child is born” was contagious.
Voices sounded rich, with abundant minute nuances of dynamics, perfect coordination, clear enunciation of the text, without any swallowed notes, and with virtuosic coloraturas such as one only seldom encounters in a choir.
“Hallelujah,” if properly performed, should make the walls come tumbling down.
Well, they almost did.
Hadas Faran’s bright, radiant soprano, effortless even on the highest notes, was a joy to hear. Her aria “Rejoice” greatly sounded altogether persuasive, and her “I know that my Redeemer liveth” expressed profound belief.
Eitan Drori’s expressive tenor abounded in nuances of dynamics, so much so that two adjacent notes never sounded equal in volume.
The Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra expertly provided the instrumental support, with enchanting solo passages of violin and trumpet.
It seemed as though Handel himself felt reluctant to bring the work to its end immediately after the “Hallelujah.” So was the spellbound audience.
It was an inspired and inspiring performance.