HALLELUJAH! ALAN GILBERT CONDUCTS A CLASSIC WITH HANDEL’S MESSIAH


Article by Luis Vazquez

Life can be a series of full rotations where the past is revisited, but with a little polish to make it asthetically appealling. But like quality shoes, it needs little embellishment. When the man wearing such shoes is Alan Gilbert, you know you are going to get quality. Such was the case at the David Geffen Hall, where Handel’s Messiah was viewed by this discerning eye.

But don’t expect an undressing of an 160 year tradition almost as old https://www.acheterviagrafr24.com/viagra-pas-cher/ as the New York Philharmonic itself. The links are timeless and above reproach. When you look through the dust of the ages, you find that Gilbert is actually walking in the shoes of another conductor Ureli Corelli Hill, who led the first complete performance of this Oratorio in 1831. But as the founder of the New York Philharmonic, the footsteps are a good deal heavier to place.

That’s why only a veteran conductor of Gilbert’s class could do this in the proper context. When you have the modern day version of the New York Philharmonic as your tools to direct with, a professional group in the Concert Chorale of New York, and four accomplished singers in addition, magic will happen.

The renovation next year on Geffen Hall coincides with Gilbert’s final season as Music Director. That in itself made this concert series essential to attend. From the opening overture, Sinfonia, Gilbert was in his element. As a former violinist and son of a violinist and teacher you can see why that orchestra section stands out in it’s precision. The chorus set the atmosphere in Part One and Tenor Matthew Polenzani brought his emaculate voice and stage experience highlighted in “Comfort Ye My People” that is familiar to audiences who viewed his previous work at the Metropolitan in roles such as Nemorino (Donizetyi’s L’eliser d’amore), Alfredo Germont (Verdi’s La traviata), and Duke of Mantua (Verdi’s Rigoletto). His voice octaves penetrated souls

Alan Gilbert is very much a performer in his own right. What makes him special is his ability to not only organize the chorus and orchestra to meet his cues but his subtle way of integrating them with the artists. He is traditional in motion, but not stiff, and at times was very animated, building crescendos like a dramatic actor in a novela, yet with no wasted motion.

This was very much on display with Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and the deep undertones represented by John Relya, who is a guest in any opera house worth it’s salt, who made one feel the ominous shades that surrounded Jesus’ birth where the story begins. Add Christina Landshamer, the German Soprano, who was making her New York Philharmonic debut, who showed great discipline in her recitatives to the chorus and together in a duet with Cooke gave a double dose of elation and celebration as a child, Jesus, is born bringing hope to the world.

Part II was dominated by the chorus who would be given the majority of the work which could be described this evening as “controlled but rich” with sprinkles of a tenor here, a mezzo there. A mention here for John Relyea whose Bass-Baritone voice brought the needed sense of foreboding as the cruxification was presented in its depth of sadness. Yet in the end the story turns for the better. This section ends with what I feel should be the true ending of Handel’s Messiah with the uber-famous “Hallelujah”, with the obligatory standing of the entire audience in stoic respect while gazing at all three areas of performers displaying a series of exchanges and sectional rises and falls, splendid solos, that blended effortlessly as the high water mark of the show.

Part III gave us a lengthy rendition by Landshamer of “I know my redeemer liveth.” Christina completed a technically perfect debut. John Relyea returned to recite while the Chorus sounded quite angelic in closing the show with “Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain.” The rendition was worthy of its predecessors and from a deeper religious core when this production was brouggt into existance over a hundred years ago, all we need to say is, Amen.

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