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SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL REPORT
Chandos Anthem No. 8, "O come, let us sing unto the Lord"
Utrecht Jubilate Deo
Seattle's 17-day immersion in the works of Handel reached its midpoint with another highly satisfying concert, this time of music for chorus and orchestra. O come, let us sing unto the Lord may not rank particularly high in the series of anthems the composer wrote during the time he spent working for James Brydges at that gentleman's Cannons estate, and the Utrecht Jubilate Deo is perhaps a less splendid work than the similarly "occasional" piece, the Dettingen Te Deum. But precisely because they have gained a less prominent place in the repertoire, it made excellent sense to program them in the context of this festival, and it was a pleasure to hear them in the superb acoustics of Seattle's St. James Cathedral.
Dixit Dominus is an altogether different matter. This, too, is not one of Handel's greatest works, but its brilliance, tunefulness, and dramatic verve are proof that, if Handel at the age of 22 was not yet quite the "master of us all" that Beethoven was to call him, he was already an authentic master by anyone else's standards. Parts of the text inevitably bring to mind Bach's Magnificat, which we know best in the revised version dating from its composer's 49th year, and in my judgment Handel's youthful piece can sustain the comparison without shame. Interestingly, his vividly onomatopoeic treatment of such evocative words as "conquassabit" is closer in method to Purcell than to Bach's more tight-lipped manner.
Karen Thomas led her Pro Musica in strong and stylish performances of all three works. She drew clear enunciation of both Latin and English from her excellent chorus, the orchestra was crisp and assured, and the vocal and instrumental solos were equally impressive.