Saturday 22 December 2012

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio from the BBC Singers and St James’ Baroque

Who could fail to be uplifted by Bach’s Christmas Oratorio especially in a performance as fine as last night’s at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, London when St James’ Baroque and the BBC Singers were directed by David Hill.

Parts 1, 2 and 3 were performed along with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.4 placed after Part 1. There was some bold exciting playing from St James’ Baroque with lovely orchestral textures. The period band was appropriately small giving transparency to the sound.

The BBC Singers were on fine form with singing full of joy. Tenor, Ben Johnson, made an ideal Evangelist and soprano, Sarah Fox, had a lovely sweet tone. It took bass, Stephan Loges a little while to warm up, not showing the flexibility needed in the aria Groβer Herr, o starker König (Great Lord and Mighty King) but he soon settled and the duet Herr, dein Mitleid, dein Erbarmen (Lord Thy Compassion, Thy Mercy, with Sarah Fox, was lovely with both voices blending well.

For me the highlight of the evening came from countertenor, David Allsopp, in the aria Schlafe, mein Liebster, genieβe der Ruh (Sleep, my dearest, enjoy Thy rest), sung with great feeling, he had a lovely tone, flexibility and fine control in the long drawn phrases,. In the chorales the BBC Singers were magnificent – who could tire of the chorale Wie soll ich dich empfangen (How shall I receive Thee).

Bach fourth Brandenburg Concerto was light and crisp with some terrific playing from the various parts of the orchestra such as the solo violinist and recorder players. St James’ Baroque had a lovely earthy quality to their playing, full of character.

All in all it was a wonderful evening of music making and a fitting last opportunity for me to post a blog before Christmas.

Season's Greetings

to all of my followers


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