by Daniel Hathaway
Most pre-concert lectures are delivered by musicologists or feature interviews with conductors. But when Apollo’s Fire gives five local performances of Handel’s Messiah beginning on Thursday, timpanist Matthew Bassett will talk about that most famous of oratorios from the point of view of the musician who has the least to do during the 2-1/2 hour work. “I don’t have that many notes to think about, but I think about them a lot,” he said in a phone conversation from Buffalo, where he serves as principal timpani with the Buffalo Philharmonic.
Bassett has had the opportunity to perform Messiah frequently with Cleveland’s baroque orchestra in the twenty years since it first presented the work. “In fact, I believe I’m the only person — and that includes Jeannette Sorrell — to have played in every Messiah that Apollo’s Fire has done.” (One set of performances the ensemble gave was led by a guest conductor.)
“You never have as much time to spend in a pre-concert talk than you think,” Bassett said, who has filled this role once before for Apollo’s Fire, “but I plan to talk about the entry of timpani into Western music and how the instruments became such an integral part of high baroque music. [Read more…]