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Chorus of approval for a Biblical masterpiece

Review: The Messiah. Ulster Orchestra

By Alf McCreary

Published 14/12/2015

The Ulster Orchestra
The Ulster Orchestra

Christmas would not be the same without a live Messiah, and the Friday performance by the Ulster Orchestra, the Belfast Philharmonic Choir, and the four soloists in the Waterfront Hall fully lived up to expectations.

The first section was interrupted by a long pause to admit those who arrived late because of traffic problems, but the concert built up momentum for Handel's masterpiece to an audience that is distinctly different to others in the Ulster Orchestra's season.

The Ulster Orchestra, under the baton of Matthew Halls, and the soloists - with soprano Sarah Tynan most impressive - caught the mood of the music and text, but the undoubted stars were the Belfast Philharmonic Choir.

The Phil, under the direction of Stephen Doughty, is first-rate and met all the many demands of Handel's score. They were crisp and clear, with entrances spot-on, and a level of interpretation that developed into one of the Phil's best performances.

The magnificent choruses rippled across the Waterfront with all the deep profundity of this great Biblical story. The final chorus Worthy Is The Lamb and the long Amen equalled in intensity, if not outshone, the magnificent Hallelujah Chorus itself.

Four stars

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