“The Magic of Bach”, a glorious baroque evening Reply

Review by Judith CaldwellreviewerJudith

The final concert of the Musikay series was held on Saturday, at Oakville’s St. John’s Church. It was an evening of classical Baroque music, as well as recent, but all with the contrast of solo; ensemble including the precision and monody associated with Baroque works. The evening opened with one of six motets written for 8 voices by J.S. Bach; so essentially each of the choir members was singing their own part and the whole was a complicated and very beautiful piece so typical of the composer.

The vocal soloists, with  keyboarder Walker at left & cellist Moersh at each end

The vocal soloists, with keyboarder Walker at left & cellist Moersh at each end

Its central part was the affirmation of faith from John’s Gospel ‘You are the way, the truth and the life’– an affirmation in keeping with Bach’s Lutheranism. This was followed by another Bach piece, the 2nd Kyrie from his great Mass in B Minor. This was probably never heard by Bach who died shortly after it was written and it may have been lost to us but for the intervention of Felix Mendelssohn who recognized the genius of Bach and promoted his music. It is something of a mystery why Bach, a Lutheran, wrote such a monumental Catholic Mass, but the music world is richer for it and this Kyrie was gorgeous.
Next we heard a French Mass written by Andre Campra, Musical Director of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris from 1694 until 1700. This was a Mass for four voices and at times it sounded like a Gregorian chant with sopranos; at others like a French round song. It was definitely the ‘oddly shaped pearl’ after which the Baroque is named. Then we moved on to a piece composed by a local living musician who could actually have been at the concert! Allan Bevan set Three Motets to texts by Henry Vaughan reflecting the crucifixion, resurrection and the ascension of Jesus Christ. The first was somber and mournful; the second, thoughtful and hesitant; and the third offered restrained hope. The music was beautiful and ultimately uplifting. The evening was rounded out by a Charpentier ‘Te Deum’ a large work for eight voices with numerous duos – tenor & alto, bass plus soprano etc., and where each singer was able to show their talents for the glory of God as well as singing as an ensemble. As a very pleasant surprise we were treated to a lovely French song – Sing to the Lord a New Song – a very fitting end to an evening of Christian Baroque music. The next season opens October 24th.

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