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J S Bach's cantata Komm, du susse Todesstunde ('O come, thou sweet hour of death') BWV161 is too often performed in a pedantic, heavy handed manner. The lightness and felicitous shaping of Veldhoven's interpretation were wonderful. The countertenor soloist was particularly distinguished for his dead center intonation and sense of musical drama. Every word (of the text) and note value were given their perfect weight and flow. This choral group clearly understood the verbal and musical meaning of the text. The beautiful singing of the sopranos (in this score and throughout the concert) was a particular joy. Bach wrote this cantata for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity -- The Feast of the Purification of Mary. Veldhoven and his tremendously gifted singers and musicians found the reverence and celebratory aspects of this work. When performed with such brilliance and joy, Bach's music truly comes alive!

No less interesting was the music of Bach's contemporaries. Johann Kuhnau's cantata Gott sei mir gnadig ('May God show mercy to me') is a work of high drama and bold contrasts. It would be hard to imagine a more passionate performance than the Dutch artists gave of this imaginative score. Unlike other 'original' or 'period' instruments groups, The Netherlands Bach players bring tonal richness and warmth to every score they perform. The beauty of the instrumental playing heightens the drama and impact of every work. (The marvelous playing of the viola da gamba instrumentalist was particularly distinguished.) The intimacy and warmly resonant acoustics of Coral Gables Congregational Church displayed this ensemble's unique qualities at their best. Buxtehude's Nimm von uns Herr du treuer Gott ('Jesus, life of life ...') BUXWV62 is an incredibly powerful and joyous score. This imaginative work stems from the simple repetition of a bass line. Bach's debt to Buxtehude was great. Buxtehude's polyphony and choral writing were deeply inspired. Veldhoven's highly charged performance brought the concert to an inspired conclusion.

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Copyright © 19 April 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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