Handel's 'Messiah', performed in St Paul's Church, Honiton on Saturday, 22 December 2012

Messiah is often done at Christmas, but not always in its entirety. Sheldon Singers, under the stylish direction of Julie De'Ath Lancaster, gave us the complete work at their recent concert, and what a treat it was. Smallish forces in chorus and orchestra created an authentic baroque sound, just as – the programme note pointed out – Handel would have expected to hear.

From the start, with well-judged tempi and dynamics in the opening Sinfony, it was clear that this was not a large-scale free-for-all but a chamber performance of charm and poise. The chorus, who are the backbone of this piece, after all, produced some lovely sound, nimble in the 'runny bits' although occasionally lacking in attack. The men especially were inclined to lose volume in the faster passages. However, the dramatic choruses in part 2 were handled confidently, and the Hallelujah chorus was magnificent.

Read More