Thomas Forrest Kelly, Five Nights: Five Musical Premieres (2000)
This year's guest conductor was Rinaldo Alessandrini, best known as the leader of the stylish Italian historically informed performance ensemble Concerto Italiano. Alessandrini led a very small selection of the NSO, suited to Handel's original orchestration: about 20 string players, including two double basses, plus pairs of oboes, bassoons, trumpets (particularly fine), and timpani. For the continuo part, he chose to have only portative organ (played impeccably by the redoubtable William Neal), rather than the combination of harpsichord and organ played by Handel at the first performances. The instruments were modern rather than the historical ones (or copies thereof) used normally by Alessandrini's group, and for the chorus he had a mixed ensemble, rather than the traditional British combination of men and boys -- and a small, agile one at that, in the 35 or so young singers of the University of Maryland Concert Choir.
Stephen Brookes, Concentrated power of NSO's 'Messiah' revives an old chestnut (Washington Post, December 18)
Kirill Karabits will be the guest conductor for the first NSO concerts of the New Year (January 13 to 15), a program that features Silvestrov's Elegy and Sibelius's first symphony, as well as Sergey Khachatryan playing Shostakovich's second violin concerto.