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CHURCH CHOIRS UNION, Issue 15666, 3 December 1914
CHURCH CHOIRS UNION
SING ‘THE MESSIAH.’
A CREDITABLE PERFORMANCE,
When adequately presented, as was tho case last night, ‘ The Messiah ’ is always welcome, even in the midst ot wars and election excitement. It was a pleasant experience to many of tho large audience at the Garrison Hall to sit quietly and listen to tho old gospel of peace and good-will as set forth by Handel. Mr W. Paget Gale (tho very active president 'of "the union) and Mr W. RDon (a conductor in whom our singers have confidence) had gathered for this occasion about 200 voices, and an orchestra of 15 led by Mr J. A. Wallace. .Mr Galo took the organ part, and Miss Harland was at the piano. Tho vocal soloists were : 'Miss May Walton soprano, Miss Esquilant contralto, Mr \V. E. M'Kinlay tenor, and Mr S. J. Gilbert bass.
Of chief importance at a performance of this kind is tho singing of the choruses. If they go well detects in other directions may be forgiven. And it is onr pleasing duty to record that the choruses wore well sung. Evidently the rehearsals had been thorough, for tho reading was firm, the words came out clearly, and Air Don was able to draw forth nice effects in expression without any violent exhortations with tho baton. A good understanding seemed to prevail. The sopranos produced a fine volume of good tone with plenty of brilliance in it, and if they could have been persuaded to go boldly as a body up to the top notes instead of leaving the last steps in the ascents to the' few—wo think they were the invaluable few who mostly read without tho book, and thus assured tho safety o r tho loads —the singing of this section of the choir would have left nothing to bo desired. The contraltos were reliable and so well together as to give richness of tone. The tenors, though numerically weak, sang splendidly, holding their part with the .greatest confidence and accuracy, and long before the concert finished wo ceased In he apprehensive about such questions as the perfecting of minor chords. There seemed to he a large muster of basses, but it was mostly baritone bass. The old hard voices are dying out. A generation ago they could ho fonnd everywhere. Nowadays, whenever a young man finds that ho can sing a bit lie goes to a teacher, who takes away his roughness and fits him to sing songs. Tnis is good for tho young man. It is disastrous to choral singing. Tims? big natural voices had their use; they were indispensable in oratorio choruses. Wo now lose the weight in tho bass part whenever the music drops below about the 0. This was noticeable last night. Nevertheless, the singing was creditable. ‘ Behold the Lamb’ was one of the moot successful of the choruses, and we liked the treatment of tho fngal chorus, seldom heard, ‘Tie Trusted in God,’ whilst ‘And tho Glory" went very well, having plenty of animation, and it might have sounded even better if taken a' wee bit faster. In our judgment—others think differently, and we admit that they can quote English authority-most o’f the choruses were on the slow side. • Unto Us’ certainly was. The slowing makes the singing easier, but it dulls the effects. On the whole, however, our feeling is one of thankfulness to Mr Don and his choir for the undoubtedly large measure of success achieved right through the evening, and it was gratifying to rind the- programme including eonie numbers generally excluded, as, for instance, 'lie Trusted in God ’ and the resurrection quartets and choruses. Inside of ’ Thu Messiah ’ that tho public know there is a •.Messiah’ that they practically never hear, and one likes to get an occasional extract from that part of the oratorio'. Some day, perhaps, tho contralto soloist will venture to finish • lie was Despised’ by supplying 'Tie Gave His Back to the SSmitevs.’ Tins remark leads into a word cr two about the soloists last night. Wo sincerely congratulate- Miss Walton upon tho knowledge and taste that idte brought to the interpretation of the soprano music. 'The adventual recitatives, usually made merely pretty, were by Miss Walton given now meaning ; and her singing of - Rejoice Greatly ’ would have pleased such a taxing tutor as Amy Shenvin. ‘Come Unto Him ' was also beautifully sung. At this point Miss Walton might have been disconcerted by the unthinking enthusiasm of the audience. They broke into applause when Miss Esquilant had finished'the contralto half ct the air. Until quite recently ‘lie Shall Feed His Flock’ and ‘Gome unit; Him ’ were regarded as one air, and so written, and taken by one voice. Nowadays the number is halved, and the first part transposed for the contralto. Wo are expressing no opinion as to the wisdom of the alteration, but surely the music should be continuous, the soprano picking it up after the 25 quavers rest. In our modern practice there is liable to ho confusion at this stage, for the soprano doer, not know whether to start in or wait. Miss Walton, however, did not appear to be pub about by the applause. SKe sang this and all her music as one who had studied it, and, though her voice is very light, it was a pleasure. Miss Esquilant sang artistically, as she always does, and scored freely, in sr.itc of the disadvantage of the music being rather low for her voice. Mr M’Kiulay had made a special study of the tenor solos. Very rarely, indeed, do wo find * Ev’ry Valley’ sung without breaking tho runs. "Thou Shalt Break Them ’ calls lor n robust tenor, and Mr M'Kinlay would have been wise to leave that number out and substitute say ‘Thy Rebuke’; hut really it seems ungracious to suggest anythin" to one who sang so correctly as Mr ABKinlay did. Air Gilbert read die bass solos well, barring one miscount in ‘ Who Alav Abide.’ and the audience acknowledged his good work. His greatcM success was in 'For Behold, Darkness, but he was mostly reliable. As to the orchestra, their playing varied very much. It was generally good, nearly always correct, but now and again the instruments rioted over the- soloists, not so much in actual accompanying as in the linking passages. On several occasions as soon as the voice came to a vest the orchestra broke into fortissimo, thus destroying tho atmosphere which the sinner and the orchestra had created; and in the pastoral svinphonv the orchestra showed their impartiality" by practically striking out the top line ci their own music, the violins in tho lead being drowned by the supporting instruments.
CHURCH CHOIRS UNION, Issue 15666, 3 December 1914
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