Coburg's music lovers had to wait a long time for georg friedrich handel's "messiah" waiting. Although the oratorio is one of the most popular works of choral literature, it has not been on the program in the city for many years. On the third advent church music director peter stenglein conducts a performance with the kantorei st. Moriz.
Do you remember when you saw the "messiah"? The first time we conducted?
Very well indeed. That was in 1990 – at my first job in furstenfeldbruck, one of my first projects ever, with a very small choir and in english of course. I had sung it in german before, but I was always annoyed at certain parts.
At the performance on the following sunday in st. Moriz becomes "the messiah also sung in english language?
As a conductor, I have only ever performed the work in english. There is simply an important moment in which there is a very convincing word-sound relationship. There is simply a lot to be said for performing the work in the language in which it is musically conceived. No one would even think of saying that the B minor mass must be sung in german because the text is in latin. In the case of the "messiah many things sound simply convincing in english.
When did you hear the "messiah"? Performed for the last time in coburg?
The messiah was last heard in concert in 2003 – then with the bachchor. And in 2007, as part of the "50 years of the bach choir" jubilee, there were together with the choeur andre leculeur excerpts from the "messiah. We have already sung the complete work with the kantorei, but that was a long time ago – it must have been 1995.
How do you defend yourself against routine in such a popular work??
I'm actually of the opinion that you don't have to do these popular things so often that you end up doing the same thing over and over again as you did the last time. That's why i always choose new pieces – also with the bachchor. When a certain time has passed since the last performance, one takes the score in hand again in a completely different way. I then notice things anew that I might not have noticed so much in a permanent occupation.
In comparison between "messiah and the "christmas oratorio": where do you see parallels, where are the differences??
I think there are more differences than parallels. The christmas oratorio was actually written for the christmas season, and christmas in bach's case actually means the time of the holidays from the 25th to the 20th. December to 6. January means. "The messiah is clearly different in its conception. Handel himself first performed the work during passiontide. The first performance was in april 1742. "The messiah is in this sense no pure christmas piece, because the christmas part occurs, but is basically only the introduction.
What are the central textual differences?
Bach sets the gospel of lucas to music, whereas handel primarily sets texts from the old testament, psalms and jesaja – and a bit from the gospel of lucas, just in the christmas part. However, "the messiah" is still in trade times very quickly slipped into the advent season – and since then the work is very strongly associated with advent, especially in the anglo-saxon area.
How would you describe your stylistic approach to interpretation??
I am not interested in the overpowering, overwhelming soundfulness that has become almost a tradition in handel's time. Of course, the work can also be performed with a mass choir, but the attraction lies in the fact that the work sounds purified in a small ensemble, that it sounds more transparent. It has not so much pomp, but perhaps a little more suppleness.