Thomas Wikman Reviews
Houston Symphony Goes Baroque Route In 'Messiah' Concert
Houston Chronicle Monday, December 20, 1999
by Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle
Link to Choral.org Reprint
The annual Houston Symphony performances of Handel's Messiah brought to Houston an accomplished but relatively unknown Baroque specialist who contributed just the right spark of ingenuity to the very familiar oratorio.
Thomas Wikman is founder and music director of Chicago's Music of the Baroque, which gave its first performance in January 1972. The organization has been described as the country's largest professional chorus and orchestra specializing in music of the Baroque.
So Wikman provided deep experience in leading the weekend performances in Jones Hall, At the first. Friday, he offered the kind of authoritative performance that could delight everyone, from the listener hearing Messiah for the first time to the person tempted to sing, knowledgeably, along with every chorus and solo.
Wikman's views were distinctive. Tempos in particular were surprisingly moderate, leading to a dignified, purposeful interpretation.
The music-making never was ponderous, though. The tempos gave the quartet of soloists and the Houston Symphony Chorus space to sing with energy, precision and, perhaps, a deeper connection with both text and notes.
Wikman's choices especially benefited the Houston Symphony Chorus (Charles Hausmann, director). In accuracy, tone and involvement, the chorus sang its best performance of Messiah that I've heard in some years. The hard work and discipline in preparing Messiah paid off for both listeners and performers.
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