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An Excellent Team

Bach's St Matthew Passion from Derby Cathedral,
appreciated by MIKE WHEELER


Gearing up for its golden jubilee celebrations next year, Derby Bach Choir produced a superb account of J S Bach's St Matthew Passion (Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 8 March 2008).

Conductor Richard Roddis set an urgent but not driven tempo for the opening chorus, reflecting the superbly judged dramatic pacing of the performance as a whole. Particularly impressive was the way the soprano aria 'For love my Saviour now is dying' (Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben) was allowed to be a quiet meditative space amid the choruses calling for Jesus' crucifixion.

The choir sang with both warmth and precision; their interjections of 'Loose him, leave him, bind him not' in the scene of Jesus' arrest were admirably crisp and pointed. The brisk speed for the bass aria 'Give me back my Lord' (Gebt mir meinem Jesum wieder) vividly conveyed the air of desperation that this number is all about.

James Oxley was in commanding form as the Evangelist, with an admirable expressive range. Gregory Skidmore was a quietly authoritative Christus. Natalie Clifton-Griffiths, Flora York Skinner, Richard Edgar Wilson and Matthew Brook were an excellent team of aria soloists.

Musica Donum Dei provided the period-instrument orchestra (the music was performed at baroque pitch), with some outstanding instrumental obbligatos, Gail Hennessey's ravishing oboe contribution to 'I would beside my Lord' (Ich will bei meinem Jesu) deserving special mention.

Copyright © 20 March 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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