I listened over some days recently to a recording of the Messiah, on Spotify, conducted by one of the new wave of baroque conductors.
You know the type. They conduct with eccentric, dance-like contortions.
If you had the sound off you'd swear they were conducting Schoenberg.
Guess that piece!
No, it's Bach Cantata no 4, "Christ lag in Todesbanden".
Their singers are just the same.
They perch on stools waving their arms around while they sing baroque arias.
If Purcell were alive today he'd turn in his grave.
If Quixote rode into town he'd take them for windmills and tilt at them for tuppence.
The whole thing has become very kinetic, very mobile.
Watching a video is extremely distracting.
I thought Spotify might be OK.
Well it wasn't.
I mean, I know the conductor in question is not British or even anglophone by birth, but why would you direct your chorus to sing "Hallelujah" as quietly as possible?
Why the need to think through the most usual and natural dynamics and then reverse them?
Quiet, reflective passages belted out.
Cries of delight and praise whispered sotto voce.
Why? Why, unless out of sheer perversity?
A fresh approach is not a bad idea, but in this case the whole effect was perturbing in the extreme.