As I told BenS the other day, I heard a performance of Handel's Messiah last weekend that was by far the most exciting I have ever heard. It wasn't perfect (so how many live performances are?) but the interpretations of tempos and styles were terrific, and the performance was technically among the best I have ever heard. [much quicker tempos for some sections, and much more staccato than many people would expect, but all well-researched by the conductor]
The conductor/harpsichordist is Ron Greidanus. He played a Chopin piano concerto when I was playing French horn in the Blyth Festival Orchestra, and I had the pleasure of conducting that orchestra when Ron performed a Bach piano concerto. He was raised just north of Clinton and despite his late start in music, he developed a terrific reputation for his knowledge and talent. The "orchestra" for this performance of Messiah is 2 violins, a viola, a cello, a bass, a baroque (valveless) trumpet which was played extremely well, and tympani (in addition to Ron on the harpsichord).
Most of the time during the performance, I was smiling and saying (to myself, I hope) "Yes!"
Here's the website for his group's concert schedule in and around Georgetown (Ontario, not DC)
As you can see from that page, they are doing repeat performances of Messiah this coming weekend on both Saturday and Sunday:
Here is their home page.
Georgetown Bach Chorale and Chamber Orchestra perform the quintessential Christmas work in an intimate Baroque style.
Saturday, November 25, 2006, 8:00 p.m.
Knox Presbyterian Church, Georgetown
Sunday, November 26, 2006, 3:00 p.m.
St. James Anglican Church, Caledon East
I highly recommend their performances. At the very least, you will be intrigued, and most likely you will be enthralled. It will be worth the drive for any of you who live anywhere near the Georgetown or Toronto area.
Update: Ron wrote me this morning to say,
It is a different approach, that's for sure — the choruses fast, articulate and sublime; the arias and recits for the most part rather dramatic, if not theatrical. It certainly makes the music come alive — you actually know what is going on.
I love the Baroque approach, and will never change back. If I had to conduct a large choir, I don't know what I would do. The lightness and precision is so much fun to make happen.