Review by Judith Caldwell
Last night at St. John’s United Church in Oakville we were treated to Messiah sung by a choir of 16 voices and an orchestra of 9 players comprising the Oakville Ensemble. Being used to hearing Messiah sung by large choirs with full orchestras I expected this to be Messiah lite, instead it was Messiah clear. The singers were all professionals who enunciated beautifully and the small size of the choir meant that the story line came through very clearly, yet were capable of producing volume when required.
Director Stephane Potvin wrote of the conflicting emotions he hears in Messiah—despair, hope, sadness, rage, fear, love, and passion. His interpretation explores all these emotions and gives a performance of both darkness and light. The first part, which deals with the birth and ministry of Christ, is fairly light and hopeful. This is followed by the much darker second part – the derision, flogging and crucifixion. We hear anger and fury contrasted with a light reading of ‘All We Like Sheep’ then back to darkness with a stunning rendition of ‘He Trusted in God’. The second section ended with a rousing ‘Hallelujah’ chorus which the audience loved.
The final section is the resurrection of Christ and begins with the hauntingly beautiful ‘I Know My Redeemer Liveth’; includes ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’; and ends with the joyous ‘Worthy is The Lamb’ and the wonderfully grandiose ‘Amen’.
The soloists – soprano Catherine D’Addario; Erika Bailey- alto; the tenor voice of Michael P.Taylor,; and Bob Knight- bass; all have lovely, well-trained voices that are certainly suited to baroque music. Instead of using a piano as so often happens, the orchestra utilized Lynne Honsberger on Continuo which gave a genuine baroque sound to the score. This was a very enjoyable evening of very clear Messiah.
Oakville Ensemble’s next concert is geared to St. Valentine’s Day and can be heard at St. John’s United Church, 262 Randall Street, on Saturday February 11tth, 2012 at 7.30pm and on Sunday February 12th, 2012 at 3pm at Mary Mother of God, 2745 North Ridge Trail. Both venues are located in Oakville.