Friday, December 4, 2015

You like... what?

(Springy G comes limping in with two chocolate-covered graham cookies and a hot buttered rum toddy, and slouches into Her desk chair)

I have a confession to make.

I love baroque music.  Bach, Scarlatti, Lully, Vivaldi.  Love, love, love it.

I can't stand Handel's Messiah.

Tonight, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra played the aforementioned Handel oratorio. I'm not a stranger to the piece -- In fact, back in 1973 in My last year of high school I sang in the choir, and we performed the Hallelujah Chorus at the Christmas concert.

I had no idea the whole thing was so long.

And dreary.

And monotonous.

Oh, and did I mention 'long, dreary and monotonous'?

Essentially what you've got there is a string section condemned to play a 17th century ringtone loop, soloists with bafflingly complex vocal acrobatics, and a very well-meaning chorus singing lyrics that, while purportedly in English, are mostly incomprehensible.

In fact, in Part the Second, in a choral section entitled "All we like sheep have gone astray," My brain decided it had had quite enough of that and started rewriting the lyrics of the oratorio.

From that point onward, all I could hear was an 80-member SATB chorus cheerfully proclaiming "We like sheep!"

That's when I started to laugh, stifling the giggles in the sleeve of the long overcoat I had draped around My shoulders (+3 protection against Concert Hall air conditioning system).

After that brief candle in the darkness, it was back to the baroque ringtones for a while.

Then came the Hallelujah Chorus, and to My utter amazement, virtually everyone in the hall stood up, blocking My view of the stage.  Apparently standing for the Chorus is a tradition, but I was not impressed.  I also stayed seated.  (It also didn't help that My right leg adductors had gone into spasm, so for the remainder of Messiah I was alternately massaging a sore lump in the leg muscles and trying to avoid kicking the seats in the next row.)

I finally did stand for the ovation at the end of the show,  as there was some very fine musicianship this evening.  The bass soloist, the trumpet soloist, the choir and the tympanist were particularly good.  As soon as the applause died down, though, I was out of there.

Next time Messiah comes up in My season ticket package I'm swapping it for something else.  Anything else. Literally anything else -- Tuba klezmer, impressionist punk, Finnish death metal played by a chamber music ensemble.

Hallelujah indeed.

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