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FULL MESSIAH Bangkok 2023 Somtow Sucharitkul Opera Siam

Video Recording from: YouTube     FULL VIDEO          Qries

Information on the Performance
Information about the Recording
  • Published by: Opera Siam  
  • Date Published: 2023  
  • Format: Streaming
  • Quality Video: 4 Audio:4
  • Subtitles: nosubs  
  • Video Recording from: YouTube     FULL VIDEO

Calliope Chamber Choir and Siam Sinfonietta under the leadership of Somtow Sucharitkul with Trisdee na Patalung leading the continuo section • Thailand’s first historically informed presentation of Handel’s iconic masterpiece

About half a century ago, a revolution in our understanding of how baroque music was performed swept through Europe and led to a complete rethinking of how the music of Bach and Handel are presented in the west. In the 1970s, Maestro Somtow witnessed conductor Bruce Gaston trying to implement some of these rediscoveries when he was conducting “Messiah” in Bangkok, but he encountered resistance, even anger, from musicians who had grown up with more traditional readings of the work. Somtow promised Bruce that one day he would make an “authentic” Messiah happen in Thailand.

“We will try to present this work, for the first time in this country, in a style that people in the 18th century would have found familiar,” Somtow said. “There will always be a place for the tradition of hundred-voice choirs and massed orchestras doing ‘Messiah’ at Christmas. But this will be more transparent-textured, fast-paced Messiah as was the performance practice in Handel’s lifetime.

“In Thailand, we have had that tradition every year – the “Big” Messiah with huge choir. When I was a child, I never missed that version under the baton of the legendary Mary Chafee in Watana Church. But Handel’s own performances were with a choir of only about 16 adults and as many boy sopranos, and the soloists were all expected to be part of the choir. The sound was transparent, and tempi were very fast — which was doable because there weren’t 100 people to a part. Soloists had the kind of freedom to ornament that is nowadays more typical of jazz singing. The orchestra and choir were about equal in size, and when Handel used oboes (the first performances had none) he used four of them so the general effect was reedier, more biting.

“Above all, Handel was a man of the theatre and “Messiah” is an opera in all but staging, and must be presented with all the high drama, pathos and excitement that goes along with its subject matter.

“Handel left at least nine different versions of this work, in each of which there are variant arias, different choruses, arias rewritten to fit different performers’ voices, and so on. We’ll be exposing audiences here for the first time to a few of those variants.”

For these performances of “Messiah” the Calliope Chamber Choir will undergo three months of “unlearning” and retraining in baroque performance techniques, as will the orchestra which will benefit from Trisdee na Patalung, Thailand’s early music expert, directing the harpsichord and organ continuo. As Handel intended, “An Authentic Messiah” will take place closer to Easter. (The Christmas story only takes up the first third of the work, which is basically in three “acts” that speak of birth, death, and triumph over death.)

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