Whilst all eyes may be on Deborah Warner’s staged production of Handel’s Messiah at the Coliseum this Christmas, it could be easy to overlook The English Concert’s performance at the Barbican on 9 December.

When, however, the line-up includes Harry Bicket, now in his third year of conducting the orchestra, and such up-and-coming stars as Lucy Crowe, Allan Clayton and James Rutherford, such an oversight could be a grave mistake.

Although this performance won’t be staged like ENO’s, given the line-up of soloists, one can expect their performances to ooze expression. Soprano Lucy Crowe has tackled many Handel roles already, showing style and spirit as Poppea in Agrippina for ENO, and excelling as both the Israelite and Philistine Woman in Samson at the Proms last summer. Expect to hear passion in her voice, just two days after she makes her debut as Sophie in Covent Garden’s Der Rosenkavalier.

Tenor Allan Clayton is similarly enjoying a bountiful career, having played everything from Albert Herring for Glyndebourne to Cosi fan tutte’s Ferrando for Opera North. With his voice being compared to Philip Langridge’s for being light, easy, warm and a whole lot more, he should relish the challenges that this Handel score presents. The third singer rapidly making a name for himself is bass James Rutherford, who replaces Matthew Rose, whilst mezzo-soprano, Patricia Bardon, needs no introduction.

Notwithstanding other scheduled performances of the work, it only remains to be seen whether it is this or the ENO’s Messiah that ultimately steals our hearts this Christmas.

For further information and to book tickets visit www.barbican.org.uk

Read our review of ENO's Messiah here

- Sam Smith