17 March 2024

Calm and storm

It's coming close to Canberra Bach Ensemble attending the Leipzig Bach Festival mid-year.  But this is Easter so a Bach passion was in store, this time St John.  But the program referenced Leipzig and advised that the CBE program will be three cantatas, BWV 9,107, 178 and interestingly that they were assigned.  I checked with Andrew afterwards and, yes, they are assigned, partly for some consistency in performances at any one festival.  I also asked who was going.  About 50-75% of the group will be attending and the others will be replaced by local players.  Given the Gevanthaus and students, that should be easy enough.  So again St John Passion, again the glorious big choral sounds and the pensive recitatives and the varied solo voices and the period instrumentation.  Also again the infectious opening that keeps reappearing thoughout.  Dave was on bass and playing beautifully on a 5-string gut strung instrument.  I noted the twisty lines and odd intervals and unexpected harmonies and sometimes followed the bass line on IMSLP and I think I found the opening theme recurring through all manner of rhythms and accompaniments, not just in the obvious recurrences in obvious form.  If I am right, it just extremely extends my understanding of Bach and his brilliance, to pass through these quite unexpected harmonic movements and to hide them throughout in all manner of forms.  Am I right?  Dunno yet but I am intrigued.  As for voices, I must highlight the Evangelist, Richard Butler, who had the most wonderfully expressed, wide ranging voice for some complex lines.  Just a stunner.  And maybe mention the lute which I don't remember hearing in Bach before but here it was (literally) central.  But again this was a huge and successful endeavour by a large group of capable musicians and singers.  And very sensible of them to stage a long interval just when Canberra's recovered Skyfire to  light the local sky and add to the noise of Canberra Ave just outside St Christopher's.

The Canberra Bach Ensemble presented Bach St John Passion BWV245 at St Christopher's Manuka.  Key performers were Andrew Koll (MD, conductor), Bianca Porcheddu (concertmaster), Richard Butler (Evangelist), Sitiveni Talei (Jesus), Grata Claringbould (soprano), Maartje Sevenster (alto), Christopher Warren (tenor) and Andrew Fysh (bass).  David Flynn (bass) held up the bottom end.

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