IT IS as seasonal as the Christmas tree and tinsel, and the audience in the beautiful surroundings of St Peter's Church of Ireland were treated to an exciting and slickly polished performance of Messiah, given by Cambiata Baroque Ensemble, Chamber Choir and soloists under the baton of conductor Niall Kinsella.
Georg Frideric Handel's Messiah, a work synonymous with the Christmas season, has enjoyed a popular life since its premiere in Dublin in 1742.
The piece was originally conducted by the composer and continually altered and tweaked for each subsequent performance he conducted. Composed swiftly in only 24 days, the texts were assembled from the King James Bible by librettist Charles Jennens, and outline the life of Christ from Advent and Nativity to Ascension.
The instrumental overture set the tone for an evening of assured performances from all involved.
The forces were lean yet perfectly balanced - 9 players in the orchestra and no more that 16 voices in the choir - and both delivered an energetic and highly musical performance. The 'Hallelujah' chorus and final 'Amen', which involved the full compliment of performers, were spectacular.
All of the soloists shined in their arias. Soprano Helene Hutchinson's expressive and agile voice paid great service in arias such as ' Rejoice Greatly' and 'I Know that My Redeemer Liveth'. Raphaela Mangan's rich, warm voice provided a comforting and beautiful 'He Was Despised'. Lawrence Thackery sang with great poise and precision and his rendition of ' Thy rebuke hath broken his heart' was sublime. Bass Cian Brady gave a rousing performance of ' The Trumpet Shall Sound', a duet with trumpeter David Collins who was flawless.
Niall Kinsella conducted the performance with great clarity, precision and energy, which was reflected in the performances he elicited. He showed great sensitivity to the singers, both choir and soloists, and had great overall command of the performance. No doubt a rising star, audiences will be seeing more of his work in the future.
Cambiata Chamber Choir, Cambiata Baroque Ensemble (Leader: Cristina Georgeta Ryan), Helene Hutchinson (soprano), Raphaela Mangan (alto), Lawrence Thackeray (tenor), Cian Brady (bass), Niall Kinsella (conductor).