Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Though It's Been Said Many Times, Many Ways

December 17, 2009

Bernard Labadie, Les Violons du Roy, La Chapelle de Québec and soloists
Photo: mine 2009

Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy returned to the Walt Disney Concert Hall this week with La Chapelle de Québec and some splendid soloists. As with their most recent performances here in Los Angeles a few years back, the combined ensembles performed Handel’s Messiah, and, while it may not be original or even unique in Los Angeles for this time of year, when Handel’s music is played this well, it’s easy to forget how familiar it is. As before, the most interesting thing about this troupe of players is how much sound a relatively small number of vocalists and musician can make. With less than 60 people on stage including soloists, each and every voice counts here. But a surprisingly large glowing sound filled the hall and surrounded the audience. It was really wonderful Handel playing all around.

The soloists were a fine group including the countertenor, David Daniels, who was in very good form on this occasion. Daniels is in an ideal environment here and his vocal runs sounded more sure to me than in his last few appearances. I was also rather fond of baritone Joshua Hopkins who sang Ping at the Metropolitan Opera this fall and was both commanding and inviting in his tone. The soprano Rosemary Joshua and tenor, Alan Bennett, rounded out the ensemble that never seemed strained or hesitant. However, the joy here was in the group dynamics. In fact the musicians were so intertwined that after a several minute delay to replace a snapped double bass string, the group picked up almost unflappably carrying on with no loss in concentration. It was a crisp, varied and unusually lush performance and a nice surprise stashed among a lot of friendly holiday fare this month.


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