Worthy Was This 'Messiah'!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Wed, 2017-12-13 21:36

Worthy Was This Messiah!

Lindsay Perigo

"Handel has for me an entirely fourth-rate significance, and he is not even entertaining."

Doubtless the throngs of people of all ages who packed the Michael Fowler Centre on Saturday night for the annual recycling of The Messiah would beg to differ with the mighty Tchaikovsky's brutal appraisal above. Even if Baroque is not one's thing (as it wasn't Peter Ilyich's), and even if it's true that the bulk of Handel's prodigious output languishes unplayed and unsung, of The Messiah's capacity to uplift and entertain—over a stretch of time that is a supreme challenge to contemporary attention spans—there can be no doubt.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Orpheus Choir of Wellington were in super shape for this outing. Conductor Brett Weymark was admirably relentless in his energy and engagement. Players were focused and crisp, the trumpeting of Michael Kirgan and his colleagues being a stand-out. The Orpheus Choir were polished, nimble and expansive—the crescendo of applause for their regular conductor Brent Stewart when he took his bow was extremely well deserved. The four vocal soloists—with the borderline exception of soprano Celeste Lazarenko—were unfortunately not quite up to the stellar standards set by the choir and orchestra, the lower register of the mezzo in particular being conspicuously humble.

Against the backdrop of current events, to observe 2000 people on their feet for the entirety of the Hallelujah Chorus, in accordance with tradition, was timely reassurance that clean delight, melody and a sense of the sacred have not yet disappeared from the face of the earth; Western Civilisation suddenly seemed a little safer. As dubious as the story may be that King George II started this tradition (was he even there?!), it's something that one would like to be true—and there's a great deal of edification to be had from behaving as though it were!

The orchestra's Chief Executive, Christopher Blake, in his programme notes, called The Messiah "life-affirming." Amen (so to speak)! For the NZSO, a triumphal conclusion to a momentous year. May 2018 be equally stupendous.


Olivia's picture

Milo needs to extrapolate - badly.

Christianity was friendly to science only to the extent that their Theologians and rulers embraced Greek thinking. Christianity did however, as Milo suggests, have a commitment to understanding God's natural world, but only advanced when it did not openly contradict predominate religious thought...which was every five minutes. The Protestant Reformation helped things along because it resulted in the Enlightenment via the end of Catholic rule, in England anyway. Milo has forgotten the thousand year plus epoch of Christian theocracy where not much advanced because of religious dogmatism.

It was Bacon who really kicked things off in the direction of scientific empiricism, which is why Protestantism gets credited for the advancement of science... and rightly so when compared to Catholic theocracy.

Well ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... Islam is a stupid, stinking savage superstition, no doubt, and a pox on Obleftivists who give it a free pass; still, seriously, we mustn't let Goblianity off the hook, for all its glorious music. I was dismayed by the ignorance Milo displayed in this response to a highly intelligent Australian (talk about aberrations!):

Now, it's simply not true that science began with Goblianity. It began with the Greeks, and even in some measure with the Egyptians and Chinese. Both Catholicism and Protestantism were sworn enemies of science. It's only within recent living memory that the Catholic Church retracted its position on Galileo. Milo doesn't help his cause by displaying ignorance of all this.

Still, Goblian music is glorious. The Messiah rocks. And Islam sucks.

Isn't it curious....

Olivia's picture

that the religion of Islam - which claims to be the religion of peace and their god, Allah, to be the lord of lords and king of kings - has never, ever inspired glorious compositions even close to anything like what Christianity did inspire over and over again in the last millennium.

An absolutely glaring chasm between these two Monotheistic superpowers regarding inspired works of art. Islam really is an empty, ugly, backward and evil superstition of the lowest order. It is worth nothing... in fact worse than nothing. It's just a stain on the minds of some pre-humans.

We're all Goblians now ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Nobody sings the Chorus better than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: I hear it and I'm ready to commit back to Christianity in a heartbeat.

If the choice is between Obleftivist tweasonists like Bwook and Ghastly on the one hand and Goblianity on the other, of course one must choose Goblianity. It does have the best music, after all (the cathedrals are quite impressive too). And the ARISIS Obleftivists are as bereft of a musical compass as they are of a moral one.


Olivia's picture

Baroque is not really my thing, aside from Vivaldi - and of course the great Handel's Messiah! Smiling

I have to say that Christmas is not quite the same without the Messiah - but I can't be bothered going out to hear it when I can do so in the comfort of my lovely apartment or my car for that matter. Though I acknowledge, it's always worth the effort, not only for the Hallelujah Chorus, but also for the I know that My Redeemer Liveth and the How Beautiful are the Feet of Him- and everything in between. I just love it all. Exquisite music that I thank the Christians who raised me for introducing me to it.

Nobody sings the Chorus better than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: I hear it and I'm ready to commit back to Christianity in a heartbeat. Smiling

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