With home being Carnegie Hall, Tritle, one of the most prominent conductors of choral music today, presented the annual Oratorio Society of New York's Messiah this past Monday, pulling out all the stops, although he was not employing his well known, virtuosic organ playing.
Handel's monumental work was almost operatic due to the strong cast of upcoming vocalists that were at hand. Weaving the Old and New Testament's timeless scriptures into a coherent version of "The Greatest Story Ever Told," it offered the opportunity for a both lyrical and dramatic vocal spectacle.
The quartet of singers each had unique gifts to offer their captive audience. Young tenor, Mingjie Lei, a product of the prestigious Curtis Opera Theatre, displayed the voice and confidence of the up and coming Bel-Canto tenor that he is. His tones were bright, without an edge, sort of a soothing balm to the ears.
The baritone, Sidney Outlaw, is a multi-prize winning recording artist for Naxos Records (debuting in Milhaud's Oresteia of Aeschylus, as Apollo). His voice was round and warm, fast and accurate, doing himself proud.
Soprano Emalie Savoy was somewhat of a surprise, not of your typical "Early Music" species. She "rocked" the "Rejoice Gratefully" with her sizable Germanic sound, smiling as she wrangled the music with growing freedom as she zeroed into a radiant finale. Already a Metropolitan Opera performer, this singer's future seems assured.
Completing the group was mezzo-soprano, Sara Murphy, another force to be reckoned with. Her grand, expansive voice, was like a rich Columbian coffee blend - smooth -- but bracing, as she used her superb diction to enunciate the sorrows of "He Was Despised." Murphy has appeared all about town in numerous projects, with an upcoming Verdi's Requiem at the Cathedral of St. John, the Divine.
Finally, the star of the show, the Oratorio Society of New York's chorus (around since 1873), rang out gloriously -- pitch-perfect -- the singers radiantly persevering the masterpiece that is Handel's Messiah.
This version, running fifteen minutes short of three hours, is not for sissies. But most folks in the audience were communally mesmerized by the full spectacle, not a common sight in today's world of instant twitter reactions, peopled of citizens molded to their electrical devices.