Aberdeen Bach Choir

Handel's Samson 27 April 2008 St Machar's Cathedral

Handel wrote his oratorios Samson and Messiah back to back and although Samson never achieved the same level of popularity it remains a firm favourite of audiences and choral societies alike. A tremendously dramatic work – Handel actually hired actors for the first performances, it has many wonderful arias and choruses, including last but not least the celebrated Let the Bright Seraphim.

The Aberdeen Bach Choir are renowned for tackling epic works and Samson is certainly that in every respect.

For last night’s superb performance at St Machar’s Cathedral the Bach Choir were accompanied by the Aberdeen Sinfonietta and joined by four outstanding professional soloists, the Soprano Wilma MacDougall, the Alto Colette Ruddy, the Tenor Iain Paton who sang the role of Samson and the Aberdeen born Bass Alan Watt.

Musical Director Gordon Jack conducted a well-rehearsed Choir extracting from them a boundless wave of power when the drama required, yet in the gentler passages they found a reflective, thought provoking tenderness. Meanwhile the soloists all performed with passion and conviction so much so that it was all I could do not to applaud after every aria and chorus.

St Machar’s can at times be an unsympathetic acoustic, it was certainly never designed to assist the sort of detail Handel wrote into the likes of Samson. However, this moving work came to life thanks to the Bach Choir and assumed a grandiose presence that was hugely compelling and highly memorable.

Roddy Phillips

Published in the Aberdeen Press and Journal Monday 28 April 2008
Reproduced by kind permission of Roddy Phillips


Page last updated 1 May, 2008 by Ian Downie