Judas Maccabaeus (Cadogan Hall, 6 November 2014)
This year is shaping up to be a Handel year. After 10 months I returned to the oratorio zone. This time I sat in the gallery, which provided an unsuspectingly fun view of the scores, the orchestra (I was sat above the rhythm section) and the choir.
Mary Nelson soprano
William Towers c-t
Nathan Vale tenor
Giles Underwood bass
Conductor: Mark Forkgen | Counterpoint period instrument ensemble
I didn’t know this oratorio but I trusted the general opinion that it’s one of Handel’s best. If it’s Handel chances are good I’ll like it. Hard to go wrong with soaring choruses even though I was tired and in danger of dozing off 😉 Maybe it was for the better than the heating wasn’t on (?). Autumn has recently hit here in London (last weekend we had 23C but by Monday it had dropped to unrecognisable lows) and it’s been a rough few days. The downside of sitting up in the gallery is the really hard backrests. Ouch! I recommend bringing a cushion. I used my coat but what would happen in the Summer?
From where I sat I couldn’t get all the words but the gist came through. Seeing as I was sat next to the rhythm section that’s what I focused on. The continuo playing was great. Happy to report the valveless horns sounded good (although they were on the other side).
Nathan Vale in the title role did a really good job with the interpretation. I found it quite engrossing. Mary Nelson and William Towers were lovely in their duets. Maestro wrung a lot of drama out of the choir who was nicely drilled. But my favourite thing was the harpsichord. Sitting so close and being able to follow it closely reminded me just how much I like it. The chap who played it was on it throughout and added a number of “fun” flourishes.