On a dark and snowy night, a packed Wigmore Hall was captivated by the Early Opera Company's offering of Handel's Messiah - compared to some, an intimate performance with a dozen instrumentalists and a choir of 8, but which suited the surroundings to perfection. If I found the choral sections a shade too operatic, that is merely personal taste, since they were performed with gusto and commitment and presumably in keeping with the EOC's ethos. It was, however, in the soloists where the real glory of the evening lay. The foundations were laid by Sarah Tynan (standing in for an indisposed Sarah Fox) and a confident performance from tenor Nicholas Watts right from the outset, with "Comfort ye my people" which resounded through the hall. But the undoubted high points were Derek Welton's glorious baritone, culminating in a powerful yet seemingly effortless "The trumpet shall sound" and, at the pinnacle, countertenor Iestyn Davies, who just goes from strength to strength. The full range and expression of his remarkable voice was employed for "But who may abide"; the delicacy so evident in an exquisite rendering of "He shall feed his flock" was simply spell-binding. He alternates with ease between lively ornamentation and plaintive, spiritual high notes which can leave no-one untouched.

A delightful note to round off the evening was the soloists joining with the chorus for both the "Hallelujah Chorus" and "Worthy is the lamb - Amen", and which sent us off into the cold night glowing inside.