Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Handel's Messiah and The Fairytale of New York so lucky me, I experienced both of them in the acoustically perfect Maison symphonique.
The Messiah was performed by Les Violons du Roy with the choir of La Chapelle de Québec and as always they were sonically brilliant. Of the four soloists it was the two male voices that were outstanding; the tenor Allan Clayton delivered a fierce yet melodic “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron” while bass-baritone Andrew Foster-Williams rattled the walls in “The people that walked in darkness”.
My evening was only very slightly “marred” by the usual shenanigans around the Hallelujah chorus: the should we stand or should we sit conundrum. It started well enough, the choir struck up and everyone remained calmly and attentively seated. But after a few seconds a short little lady in the front row tottered to her feet, sparking random arisings around the hall; soon it was a 50/50 split in the audience and not long afterwards I reached the “ah shag it I'll stand up too” moment myself. Honestly why all the palaver? I think some people just want to show that they are more dedicated to the Messiah than others - they remind me of the Sundays of my youth and the early kneelers during the eucharistic prayer at mass who would cough and wheeze at the back of the still-seated person in front of them. Ahem.
Anyway, a week later I was back for the Christmas party hosted by Martha and Rufus Wainwright and for the most part it was flipping brilliant, especially when either of those two were at the front. Rufus delivered a great version of Emmylou Harris' “Coat of many colours” and then an Ave Maria that had me wiping my eyes - his voice is so pure and true. Martha had many great moments and when she finished off the evening with The Fairytale of New York I jumped to my feet - no shenanigans here - and sang along at the top of my voice, probably the only Montrealer in the audience who knew every word. A great evening was had by all.