Review - 01 December 2018



The significance of performing Messiah in St Mary's Church Bridgwater should not be lost. In the year of Handel's birth in 1685, the church was being used as a refuge for troops fighting the Battle of Sedgemoor. Handel was born in Northern Germany, but travelled widely, picking up styles from Europe, influenced particularly by the Italian Opera, and the Dance Suite.

The performance on Saturday, conducted by Iain Cooper, brought out the delightful terpsichorean nature of some of the choruses, notably the dance like influence of the Gigue in "O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion". It was light and airy, and quite an unusual interpretation. In spite of the complex contrapuntal nature of "Let Us Break Their Bonds Asunder", it danced along with a strong feel of a minuet.  "Since by Man Came Death" showed some soft controlled singing by the semi chorus, a poignant moment of contemplation beautifully expressed.  One of the outstanding moments had to be the “Hallelujah Chorus”, which the choir sang from memory, with enormous vitality and commitment. 

Handel's orchestration is full of "word painting", expertly executed by the small group of players led by Brigid Kirkland-Wilson. Special mention should be made of the faultless and breath taking trumpet contribution to the bass solo in "The Trumpet Shall Sound".

The soloists all had their notably heartfelt moments and sang impeccably, with sensitive interpretation and presence. 

This choir has improved dramatically over the last few years, they sing with clarity of rhythm, diction and tuning.  Under the expert guidance of Iain Cooper, they are going from strength to strength, demonstrating the power of music for performers and listeners alike.


Review for Bridgwater Mercury