G. F. HÄNDEL
MESSIAH

The Messiah, Händel's most famous and popular work, is one of the greatest creations of the musical literature of the world. Händel composed it in the incredibly short timeperiod of 24 days, when he was at the lowest ebb of his career. The final death of opera had left him a relatively poor man. His constant work and lack of sleep had affected his health.

There is, however, no doubt that he was more spiritually involved in his composition of the Messiah than in that of any other work.

The first performance took place on the 13th April 1742 in Neale's Music Hall in Fishamble Street in Dublin. After his return from Ireland there were 56 performances of the Messiah in England during his lifetime. Only 12 of these took place in churches. There are many versions of this work - even Mozart arranged it for performances in Vienna. Händel himself varied the work a great deal according to the circumstances of the performances and the quality of the available musicians and singers. Unfortunately, during the 19th century, the Messiah took on an oppressive weightiness and sombre atmosphere due largely to the use of massed chorusses and huge orchestras with instruments which Händel did not use. In this complete performance - there are no cuts or omissions - the chorus is only slightly larger than the 32 singers used in the first performance. The soloists will also contribute something of their own in their use of embellishments, as these were so clearly understood in Händel's time, that it was unnecessary to write them down.

Although it has become the custom to use an organ when rendering this work, it is obvious that Händel did not have an organ in the theatres and music halls where most of the performances took place.
Hence the use of the harpsichord in this performance of the Messiah.

Bruno Peyer



This concert is given in collaboration with the Department of National Education, Northern Transvaal Regional Office for the Advancement of Culture. We wish to express our gratitude towards our sponsor members for their co-operation.

 Saturday 26th May 1973 at 8 p.m. 
UNISA AUDITORIUM
Muckleneuk Ridge
 Conductor
Bruno Peyer
Soloist
Hilary Thomas (Soprano), 
Stella Breder (Alto), 
Sjoerd Beute (Tenor) 
Jaco van der Merwe (baritone)
 Orchestra 
Collegium Musicum Leader Haim Hadar

Hapsichord
Gabrielle Duve
 PROGRAMME

PART 1

  1. Overture (orchestra)
  2. Comfort ye (tenor)
  3. Every valley (tenor)
  4. And the glory of the Lord (choir)
  5. Thus saith the Lord (bass)
  6. But who may abide (contralto)
  7. And he shall purify (choir)
  8. Behold a virgin shall conceive (contralto)
  9. O thou that tellest (contralto and choir)
  10. For behold, darkness (bass)
  11. The people that walked (bass)
  12. For unto us a child is born(choir)
  13. Pifa"Pastoral Symphony"(orchestra)
  14. There were shepherds, etc. (soprano)
    And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them
  15. And the angel said unto them (soprano)
  16. And suddenly there was with the angel(soprano)
  17. Glory to God (choir)
  18. Rejoice greatly (soprano)
  19. Then shall the eyes (alto)
  20. He shall feed his flock (alto & soprano)
    Come unto him, all ye that labour
  21. His yoke is easy, and his burthen is light(choir)

PART 2

  1. Behold the Lamb of God (choir)
  2. He was despised (alto)
  3. Surely (choir)
  4. And with his stripes we are healed (choir)
  5. All we like sheep have gone astray (choir)
  6. All they that see him laugh him to scorn (tenor)
  7. He trusted in God (choir)
  8. Thy rebuke hath broken his heart (tenor)
  9. Behold, and see if there be any sorrow (tenor)
  10. He was cut off out of the land of the living (tenor)
  11. But thou didst not leave his soul in hell(tenor)
  12. Lift up your heads (choir)
  13. Unto which of the angels said he at any time (tenor)
  14. Let all the angels of God worship him (choir)
  15. Thou art gone up high (bass)
  16. The Lord gave the word (choir)

INTERVAL

PART 2 (Continued)

  1. How beautiful are the feet (soprano)
  2. Their sound is gone out (choir)
  3. Why do the nations (bass)
  4. Let us break their bonds asunder (choir)
  5. He that dwelleth in heaven (tenor)
  6. Thou shalt break them (tenor)
  7. Hallelujah(choir)

PART 3

  1. I know that my Redeemer liveth (soprano)
  2. Since by man (choir)
  3. Behold I tell you a mystery (bass)
  4. The trumpet shall sound (bass)
  5. Then shall he brought to pass(contralto)
  6. O death, where is thy sting? (contralto, tenor)
  7. But thanks he to God(choir)
  8. If God be for us? (soprano)
  9. Worthy is the Lamb (choir)
    AMEN (choir)

REVIEWS

 

NOT A NOTE WAS MISSING

Concert: Handel's Messiah 
Soloists: Hilary Thomas, Stella Breder, Sjoerd Beute, Jaco van der Merwe 
Choir : Pretoria Bach Choir 
Orchestra: Collegium Musicum 
Conductor: Bruno Peyer

AN authentic version of Handel's Messiah was presented at Unisa on Saturday night, - every single note of it. The virtue of the Bach Choir's marathon performance, -- it was nearly 11.30 pm by the time they reached the final Amen - was that anyone who had not previously heard Messiah in its entirety now knows why it is usually cut.

It was an averagely compettent but unexciting performance, notable for the heroic efforts of the four tenors in the choir. They managed to keep their line audible for 80 percent of the time, though not without some signs of strain.

Crisper

 

Maestro Peyer has obviously thought deeply about this work and did not bring us a routine performance. Some of his tempi were interesting but not exceptionable.

There seemed at times, however, to be a lack of communication. There were some ragged, even completely missed, entries, and moments when the orchestra got out of step with the choir or soloist. The choir needs to cultivate a crisper attack. A more precise stick would have helped.

The size of the orchestra may have been a matter of economics as much as anything but was also artistically right. It could have been even smaller. Three cellos and two basses were rather to heavy for the harpsichord continuo in the recitatives.

Gabrielle Duve made a sterling contribution to the evening. The harpsichord came clearly through the texture of the small orchestra. This was helped by the dry acoustics which seemed to favour the plucked string tone, and indeed string tone generally, over the voices.

The lack of resonance in the choral tone was surely due to the acoustics.

In commenting on the soloists, some allowance must be made for the fact that they were obviously struggling with the acoustics. The tenor, Sjoerd Beute, fared the best. His clear, forward tone came over well with no sense of strain.

Stella Beder has a contralto voice of lovely quality but she does not project it sufficiently. She tends to sing more to herself - or her book - than to the audience. If she, would share her singing with her listeners, give herself more to them, something fine, might he forthcoming.

The bass part was taken by Jaco van der Merwe. He has a fine mellow voice but a rather gusty style, giving the feeling that the voice is not always completely under control. Antoine de Ley's playing of the trumpet solo inThe Trumpet Shall Soundwas all that we have come to expect from this excellent player.

Soprano

 

Hilary Thomas uses her voice beautifully, though I felt that the soprano part was not entirely suited to her distinctive style. It was, however, a musical and intelligent rendering. I particularly liked her final solo,If God Be For Us, Who Can Be Against Us?

Players and singers alike weathered their endurance test well, though there were signs of their audience wilting a little, despite the comfortable seating. We are grateful for a complete Messiah, even if we have a sneaking feeling that we will opt for the cuts next time.

Vivien Allen


 

 

OGGENDBLAD

Messias met geesdrif vertolk 

Saterdagaand 28 Mei 1973

KOOR : PRETORIA BACH CHOIR onder leiding van Bruno Peyer 
SOLISTE: Hilary Thomas (sopraan), Stella Breder (alt), Sjoerd Beute (Tenoor) en Jaco van der Merwe (bariton)
ORKES:Collegium Musicum onder leiding van Haim Hadar
KLAWESIMBEL:Gabrielle Duve

Die Messias wat stellig Händel se bekendste werk is, het die afgelope twee honderd jaar veral onder Engelssprekende volke 'n tradisioneel religieuse werk geword wat teen Paastyd uitgevoer word. Na my mening is dit 'n mooi tradisie en dit is verblydend dat die Messias in ons land ook dikwels in groter sentra uitgevoer word.

Dit bied die geleentheid om die werk te leer ken as 'n lewende musiek wat deur die jare in the gemoed groei.

Die Pretoriase Bach-koor het Saterdagaand 'n individualistiese uitvoering wat tot 'n puristiese benadering van die musiek geneig het, gelewer. Daar is naamlik weggebreek van die tradisioneel swaarlywige koor en orkes. 'n Kleiner groep musikante het begeesterd en met toewyding opgetree.

Die orkes verdien groot lof vir sy spel. Die viole was veral welluidend en het deurgaans die leiding van die melodiese lyn voortreflik gehandhaaf. Verder moet die trompetspeler wat die ariaThe trumpet shall soundbegelei het, vir sy pragtige spel genoem word. Dit het die uitvoering as geheel op 'n hoë vlak geplaas.

Die koor, was kleiner as die meeste wat ek in die verlede gehoor het en het duidelik en met oorgawe gesing. Dit is moeilik om groot volume in 'n koor met min stemme te verkry, sonder dat daar geskree word. Saterdagaand het die sangers goed daarin geslaag om 'n mooi klank voort te bring. Individuele stemme was egter heel dikwels hoorbaar.

 

Entoesiasme

 

Soms het ek die indruk gekry dat sommige van die kore met groter entoeslasine as ander gesing word.Arise, shine for thy light is come, wat op die blye tyding aan Sion volg, was redelik bedeesd - wat jammer was. In teenstelling hiermee wasGlory to Goden die beroemdeHallelujaegter uiters bevredigend.

Die vier soliste het met groot toewyding hulle vertolkings van die onderskeie arias oorgedra. Sjoerd Beute het met sy stemgebrulk in die moeilike passies in die ariaEvery valley, bewondering afgedwing.

Ek meen dat die melodiese lyn soms van ay trefkrag afgestaan het deur die toevoeginp van ornamentele note net voor die terugkeer na die tonikunim

Stella Beder het haar deurgaans goed van haar taak gekwyt - hoewel haar stem soms swak teen die orkes gedra het. Ek het haar vertolking van die ariaO thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, bewonder.

Hilary Jones se stem is baie welluidend en dra goed teen die orkes, hoewel 'n mens soms sukkel om die woorde wat sy sing, te hoor. Die vuurproef was natuurlikI know that my redeemer Livith, en die het ay pragtig en met goeie frasering gesing.

Jaco van der Merwe het een van die, hoogtepunte van die aand gelewer met sy vertolking vanThe trumpet shall sounden het daadwerklik bygedra tot die meevoering van die hele oratorium na sy klimaks.

As geheel was die uitvoering 'n groot sukses en sou dit kleinsielig wees om te veel kapsie te maak teen glipse soos die swak aanhef van die koor inThe Lord gave the word.

Moontlik moet in daardie spesifieke saal deur soliste gewaak word teen te veel afkyk op bladmusiek, omdat hulle stemme sodoende verdof.

Verder is daar dan vir die lede van die gehoor wat op sitplekke hoog bokant die verhoog sit, nie veel van die solis se verhoogpersoonlikheid waarneembaar nie.

Christo Grobbelaar

 

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