Concert review: Bach Festival

April 11, 2018 21:06
Violin player

Violin player (illustrative photo). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The Bach Festival’s Opening Concert presented not one but two Magnificats, by father Johann Sebastian and son Carl Philipp Emanuel, performed by the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra and the Cecilia Soloists Ensemble, conducted by Philippe Perlot.

Despite similarity of form, content and text, considerable diversity was provided by the enormous difference of musical styles between the two works. While C.P.E.’s work is unabashedly emotional and caressingly melodious, foreshadowing the Romantics, that by J.S. is appropriately solemn, formal, and abounding in Baroque-style coloraturas.

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The Cecilia Soloists Ensemble has the advantage of singers that possess soloist qualities. On the other hand, however, the full, rich sound of a real choir, such as the Bachs presumably intended, was deplorably missing. Moreover, a singer’s occasional inaccuracy is more noticeable in such a small group than in a real choir.

It seemed as though C.P.E.’s less famous work perhaps had profited from more rehearsal time, and consequently the singing sounded more relaxed and enthusiastic. J.S.’s work, in contrast, sounded more tentative, placing emphasis on accuracy rather than on expression and self- identification.

On the whole, it was an agreeable, though not quite magnificent performance.

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