HANDEL arr. MOZART Messiah ( 1h 51′ 52″)
Morag Atchison, Bianca Andrew, Henry Choo, James Clayton, Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir, Orchestra Wellington; conducted by Tecwyn Evans. Recorded by Radio New Zealand Concert at the Wellington Town Hall, 2 June, 2013.
GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685-1759)
As arranged by W A Mozart
Recorded live at the Wellington Town Hall
2 June 2013
George Frideric Handel took up residence in London in 1712, becoming well-known as a writer of Italian-style opera which was very popular. But fashions change, and in the 1730s the public’s desire for Italian opera began to wane. Handel began to introduce an alternative to his operas, this being the beginnings of his oratorio writing.
Around this time, the librettist Charles Jennens sent a new text to Handel – Messiah – which he set to music in 24 days of hurried work. This is evident from the original score covered in blots and corrections, and there were to be many revisions and rearrangements in the years that followed. After its premiere in Dublin, it went on to have its Covent Garden debut in 1743. Following Handel’s death in 1759, performances were given in Florence, New York, Hamburg, and Mannheim, where Mozart first heard it in 1777.
In Vienna the sweeping reforms of Emperor Joseph II to modernise the Catholic Church saw the decline of church music, which led to an increase in the number of private performances. Baron Gottfried van Swieten, former diplomat and Imperial Librarian, used his influence and connections to encourage this by founding the Society of Associates, with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as director. Fearing the demise of Baroque music in favour of the newer Classical style, van Swieten commissioned Mozart to modernise Handel’s Messiah by filling out the orchestration to include flutes, clarinets and horns, with trombones supporting alto, tenor and bass parts and recasting a number of the solo airs. While not changing much of the original music – the choir parts are virtually unaltered – the Mozart arrangement achieves a blend of the original Baroque counterpoint in a Classical style.
Tecwyn Evans, conductor
Conductor Tecwyn Evans is an alumnus of the New Zealand Youth Choir. After his studies in New Zealand he took up a Fulbright Scholarship to study conducting at the University of Kansas. From 2009-2001 he was Kapellmeister and Deputy to the Music Director of Grazer Oper, Austria.
He began his conducting career as Chorus Master for Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 1999 – a position he held for four years. He has appeared in concert with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony, Ulster Orchestra, Grazer Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata and in New Zealand with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, Southern Sinfonia and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
Morag Atchison is a graduate of the University of Auckland and the Royal Academy of Music, London. She was a finalist in the Kathleen Ferrier Competition and a prize winner in the Royal Overseas League Competition. Her career has included concerts in the UK, Europe, the United States and Africa, working with conductors David Wilcocks and Colin Davis in famous concert halls including Wigmore Hall and the Royal Albert Hall.
Bianca Andrew graduated from the New Zealand School of Music with a BMus and a Postgraduate Diploma of Music, after which she undertook further study in Europe. This included lessons with Paul Farrington, vocal coach at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and in Paris with Nathalie Spinosi at the Schola Cantorum. Recent career highlights include the 2012 NBR New Zealand Opera production of Hôhepa, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, the Mozart Requiem with Voices New Zealand, and this year’s NZ Opera production of Madame Butterfly.
A former member of the Australian Boys Choir, Henry Choo has studied at the Melba Conservatorium of Music and the Australian National Academy of Music. Henry made his career debut in Opera Queensland’s production of Don Pasquale and made his principal debut with Opera Australia as the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier. He has been engaged as a soloist in many concert works, including Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St John Passion and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solemnelle.
James Clayton is one of the leading singers to emerge from Western Australia in recent years. He became a Young Artist with West Australian Opera in 2006 and has gone on to sing many roles with the company. He has also enjoyed considerable success on the concert platform, appearing as a soloist with the Tasmanian Symphony, Collegum Symphonic Choir, and West Australian Symphony Orchestra. In 2012 he made his Opera Australia debut in La Traviata.
Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir
With Artistic Director Dr Karen Grylls, Voices New Zealand draws members from among the nation’s best singers, to create a chamber choir of flexible size and wide repertoire. The choir performs regularly with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings for Naxos. Their CD of New Zealand works Spirit of Land and Sea won Best Classical Album at the 2006 NZ Music Awards.
Orchestra Wellington (formerly Vector Wellington Orchestra) plays an extensive role in the cultural life of Wellington City and the wider region, performing for up to 100,000 people annually.
The orchestra supports other arts organisations in the Wellington region, including the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the Orpheus Choir and the NBR New Zealand Opera.