WELL that was bloody good, one man opined to his wife as they left the Lighthouse after an evening of Handel's Messiah.

Bloody good doesn't come anywhere close. Not remotely.

A full house was engulfed and overwhelmed by the most stunning of performances by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the 130-strong, totally beautiful, Bournemouth Symphony Chorus.

No wonder that musicians turned around to give the singers behind them their own show of appreciation at the end, whilst the audience gave an ovation to all.

While the Hallelujah Chorus and Amen Chorus would have been worth the price of admission alone, we were treated to two and a half hours of a glorious and joyous tour de force which was by turns uplifting, emotional and quite simply breathtaking.

The evening was held together under the masterful presence of Laurence Cummings who conducted orchestra and chorus while also playing the harpsichord. Little surprise that he is one of the country's leading exponents of historical performance.

The four soloists were wonderful, most especially counter-tenor, William Towers, a last minute replacement. His voice enchanting.

Handel wrote Messiah over a few weeks in 1741. It has long been a Christmas tradition and a piece of music embedded into culture and consciousness perhaps more than any other.

With performances such as Wednesday's, there is no danger that the world would ever become complacent with the familiarity of this masterpiece.

An unforgettable evening for a first timer like me, but almost certainly too for Messiah aficionados.