As Advent approaches, Handel’s Messiah, beloved of choral societies everywhere, becomes one of the most performed pieces in the concert repertoire. Having attended many such performances over the years, the Novalis Chamber Choir’s rendition, directed by Harry Sever, was easily one of the best I have experienced. Bringing together twelve singers from Oxford’s premier choirs and an exceptional instrumental ensemble led by Henry Chandler, this performance was crisp, dramatic, and convincing.
The voices in the choir blended well, particularly in the quartet sections; there could have perhaps been more nuance in the early fugal movement ‘And he shall purify the sons of Levi’, but this was long rectified by the time the later ‘Let us break their bonds asunder’ was reached. Outstanding solos were offered by all the singers, particularly from the bass section, all of whom are members of the Christ Church Cathedral Choir.
A truly outstanding rendition of this oratorio, any future performances by the Novalis Chamber Choir and Orchestra are worth seeking out.