Heidrich treats Handel with care
By Frank Merkling
NEWS-TIMES ARTS CRITIC
DANBURY — St. Peter Church resounded Sunday afternoon with
18 choruses from seven oratorios composed by Handel in an unparalleled nine-year stretch.
Tina Johns Heidrich conducted her Connecticut Master Chorale in this appropriately
splendid setting, newly gilt and refurbished though not yet with its stained glass
Ably supported by a 15-piece orchestra, which had four intermezzos all to itself, the
55 auditioned singers performed with their customary skill and fervor in a program that
(after an organ preamble from the “Water Music” played by Joseph Jacovino Jr.) began and
ended with excerpts from “Messiah.”
Heidrich had arranged the program, dubbed “Handel With Care,” for maximum contrast —
now the women leading, now the men — and built from a pointed chorus like “Fallen Is the
Foe” from “Judas Maccabæus” to the imitative “He Gave Them Hail-stones” from “Israel in
There’s a lot of variety in this music.
The afternoon’s second half, which found everyone in full voice and fine fettle,
included the sparkling instrumental Entrance of the Queen of Sheba (“Solomon”) and a
harmonically inventive “The People Shall Hear” (“Israel in Egypt).”
Among the “Messiah” excerpts at the end were “Worthy Is the Lamb” and the grand, final
Amen — but Heidrich didn’t stop there.
Since the large audience had already straggled to its feet, what could have been more
natural than to round things off with the “Hallelujah” Chorus as an encore? Which she did.