David Shemer Piano 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy JBO)
Strange as it may appear, an Israeli premiere, with period instruments, of an
18th century work by Bach is still possible nowadays. A case in point is his
“music drama” The Contest Between Phoebus and Pan, performed by the Jerusalem
Baroque Orchestra, conducted by David Shemer, in its season’s opening concert.
This is also one of the rare works where the usually solemn Bach permitted
himself some humor.
Having six solo singers function as a choir may be
economical, but can hardly substitute for the choral sound Bach presumably had
in mind when he indicated a choir in his score. Bach, after all, deserves credit
for being aware of the difference between a full chorus and six
Among the solo singers, Oded Reich was noteworthy for his
sonorous bass-baritone, his communicative rendition of the role of Pan, and as
the only one whose enunciation of the German text was
David Nortman displayed an appealing and well-polished
If an orchestra cannot afford six competent solo singers, it would
be well advised to include a less demanding work in its repertoire.
Suite No. 3, as a curtain-riser, tempi were much faster than elegant courtly
dances would suggest, even though Bach did not intend his music to be played for
actual dancing. The trumpets required some taming by the conductor in order not
to overshadow the strings most of the time.