For unto us a child is bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-orn!
We went to watch the Messiah on yesterday -- it was the first time I've watched a full performance of it! I thought the performance was great and it actually went by swifter than I expected [I'm not generally a huge fan of vocal classical music]. I thought the conductor, Jane Glover, was absolutely fabulous and the Toronto Mendelssohn choir did not disappoint (they didn't disappoint for Beethoven's ninth either), although perhaps I had somewhat depressed expectations after hearing a plethora of criticisms last year. ;)
As always, Kevin Bazzana's programme notes pack a lot of classical music trivia/facts and it was interesting to read about the controversies that Handel stirred by promoting the musical form of the oratorio [a musical setting of a religious subject intended for public entertainment outside the church]. I guess I just haven't thought much on church history to realize that the questions of "form" will never change... that the debate of what is "appropriate worship" will continue, as it has since 1743 and probably long before that too.
Janey also pointed out that the Messiah was performed back then around Easter as the Messiah concludes with the confidence in the resurrection of Christ.
As I mentioned, I'm not generally a huge fan of classical music, and it would be interesting to travel back in time to see if people really enjoyed melisma. Sometimes, I wonder if Handel thought it would just be amusing to succomb a bass or any of the other voices to see if they would still make sense in expressing the lines of Scripture while packing into that line a couple dozen of notes. =p
The Hallelujah chorus was actually felt anti-climactic to me, although it could have been because I was figuring out where we were at that point. =p Of course, it is only the conclusion of Part II, whereas the real conclusion -- at Part III packs the climax of the oratorio. I enjoyed that final chorus (as well as the "For unto us a Child is born" chorus -- my favourite Christmas verse!) very much:
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honour, glory and pow'r be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. [Revelation V9 and 12-13]
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.