Review by Judith Caldwell
Spring has arrived. Beautiful Easter music was masterfully performed in Hammer Baroque’s concert, ‘Easter in Leipzig’. A powerfully hopeful message was presented by The Spiritus Ensemble – a mix of established musicians and students from the Kitchener/Waterloo area -consisting of the choral introduction to Bach’s Cantata Six and the entire Cantatas Sixty-Six and Four.
The Ensemble consists of a 16 voice choir plus an orchestra of strings, oboes, bassoon, trumpet and organ. They created an authentic Baroque concert under Artistic Director Kenneth Hall, performed without intermission, so as not to interrupt the spiritual mood.
The opening chorus of Cantata Six set the mood of a passage from Luke 24:29 – the road to Emmaus when the disciples did not recognize Christ and yet begged Him to stay the night with them. The music was full of longing – in places insistently pleading, while other sections were quite mournful with a nuanced spiritual tone.
Cantata Sixty-six deals with the spiritual life of the believer – “rejoice, your Savior lives within you, the grave is broken”. It contains a very moving bass aria ‘Es Bricht das Grab’ and an alto- tenor duet, ‘Ich Furchte zwar’ that was simply gorgeous. The final choral ‘Alleluja!’ was joyful yet left a profound sense of consolation.
Cantata Four, ‘Christ lag in Todesbanden,’ written much earlier created a more theological underpinning to the Easter story. It was performed by choir, soloists, strings and organ only. The brass and winds were not used. It began with a Sinfonia and then the definitive chorus, Christ lag in Todesbanden – Christ lay in death’s bond – followed by a mournful soprano/ alto duet accompanied by the organ and a solemn cello; and then a powerful tenor declaration that ‘Jesus Christ, God’s son is risen’. Later, there was a soprano/ tenor duet accompanied by that same cello this time sounding cheerful. The final chorale was definitely hopeful – ‘Christ will nourish our soul’.
The soloists were Corey Cotter Linforth, soprano; Jennifer Enns Modolo, alto; Bud Roach, tenor; and David Roth, bass. The next Hammer Baroque concert is on Wednesday May 25th, 8pm at Melrose United Church with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and will likely sell out as news of this wonderful concert spreads.