The most performed piece of classical music worldwide, Handel composed his Messiah in just 24 days, writing morning to night. In a period of weeks, Handel created a work of such invention, inspiration and timelessness that it has endured for three centuries (and counting), nothing less than an icon of the Western classical canon.
The work’s popularity was instantaneous; the management of Dublin’s Musick Hall, where the Messiah was first performed, implored concertgoers to forgo dresses with hoops, so as to make ‘room for more company.’
Even Mozart confessed himself humble in the face of Handel’s genius. ‘Handel knows better than any of us what will make an effect,’ Mozart said. ‘When he chooses, he strikes like a thunderbolt.’
Musically, Handel’s most significant innovation was to elevate the chorus to equal status with his soloists. This demanded choral writing of astonishing power and drama, monumental blocks of vocal sound. The sense of joy bursting from the Hallelujah chorus is second to none; this is music to lift the spirits.
Simon Hewett Conductor
Chloe Lankshear Soprano
Tobias Cole Counter Tenor
Andrew Goodwin Tenor
Adrian Tamburini Bass
Canberra Symphony Orchestra
HANDEL Messiah, HWV 56