HANDEL’S glorious oratorio The Messiah has become an essential part of the festive season, and this performance by the renowned Southampton Philharmonic Choir and soloists was guaranteed to get everyone into the spirit of Christmas.

The large choir included singers from the Southampton University Phil, and was accompanied by the superb New London Sinfonia, all under the baton of conductor David Gibson.

With the addition of four top notch soloists, this was an evening to remember.

Handel’s inspirational work glides smoothly from one glorious aria to another. The ever popular For Unto Us A Child Is Born was particularly memorable for the way in which the choir emphasised the words “wonderful” and “counsellor” with great clarity.

The glorious bass aria The Trumpet Shall Sound was also magnificent, with its amazing trumpet obbligato played with resplendent silver clarity.

The soloists were impressive.

Soprano Erica Eloff has the most glorious, soaring voice, which resounded magnificently in such arias as I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.

It is good these days to hear a mezzo soprano instead of the somewhat falsetto sound of a counter tenor, and Catherine King’s mellow tones were beautiful.

Tenor Andrew King replaced the indisposed Joseph Cornwell. King’s mastery of baroque was evident, and this was another powerful performance. Equally suited to this genre was the rich, resplendent bass voice of Alexander Robin Baker.