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A memorable concert, with MALCOLM MILLER


As part of the numerous worldwide celebration concerts for the Bach 250th anniversary, a superb programme was given in New York on 17 October which featured three of Bach's masterpieces, the Suite No 3 in D, Cantata 80 Ein Feste Burg and the Magnificat. The concert was projected with zest and tonal beauty by the Choir and Orchestra of the Church of St Ignacius Loyola conducted by their music director Kent Tritle, as part of the tenth annual series of 'Sacred music in Sacred Places'. The performance benefited from the spacious resonance of the ornately decorated church, located on Manhattan's Westside, and despite some blurring of details, the spirited performances abounded in orchestral colour, and polished choral and solo singing.

Tritle, who is also organist of the New York Philharmonic, conducted the Suite with zest, the driving momentum of the Overture, with its alternations of slow majestic and buoyant textures, followed by an eloquent account of the Air on a G string. The concluding gigue was especially vivacious. Ein Feste Burg is a work of wonderful imagination, the simple chorale melody subject to ingenious decoration, especially in the duet of bass and soprano, the elaborate chorus and the final majestic harmonisation. The cor anglais and violin obbligato in the duet for male alto and tenor, Wie selig, with its thirds and lyrical highlights was particularly effective.

Dramatic tension was marked in the Magnificat which was, in many ways, quite splendid. The first aria for soprano tripped lightly, but it was the aria for the first soprano that achieved a glowing eloquence and focus: Kathy Theil's fine voice in duet with the ornate cor anglais obbligato. The duet for alto and tenor was movingly expressive, the dissonances that launch each phrase tense, whilst the climactic chorus Fecit potentiam was especially powerful at the sudden arresting interruption before the final passage. The duet for sopranos, Suscepit Israel, was vibrantly lyrical, and the final two choruses injected with energy and zest. It was a truly memorable concert.

Copyright © 28 October 2000 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




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