We had what looked like another capacity crowd for today’s Bach at Noon, and, as our conductor said, we were ecstatic to have everyone there. Kristina Moditch offered a wonderful prelude to the cantata that followed. I was especially impressed with the the spaciousness of her playing, and the delicacy of her touch. Often, when young players interpret Bach, there’s a kind of monochromatic quality to their playing, in terms of both dynamics and rhythm. Kristina played with a lovely sense of rubato, underlining all of the the contrapuntal details with great subtlety, and with a very wide dynamic range: restraint where necessary, adept phrasing of inner voices, and exceptional balance throughout. Her playing is very mature in a way that belies her 15 years of age, and we’re all very excited to see where her skills take her. I suspect we’ll be able to say that we knew her when!
Our instrumentalists acquitted themselves beautifully on the cantata – it was, as always, a delight to hear the beauty of gambas and recorders, and our basso continuo players were, also as always, solid as a rock. I was very proud of my colleagues in the choir, and delighted to hear our excellent quartet of soloists demonstrate their mastery of this challenging music. How magnificent to have Fiona Gillespie back to sing the soprano solo. Fiona was a choral scholar in the choir many moons ago, and now has a very impressive CV of study and performance. Her “Ja, komm” was ravishingly beautiful. Barbara Hollinshead and Robert Pitello are well-known to our audience, and they both sounded amazing on their solos. Robert’s aria is brutally demanding and he handled the high tessitura with panache and elegance. Barbara’s aria and the long cantus firmus work were rendered with enormous precision and sensitivity, and perfect clarity. We were also delighted to make the acquaintance of Steven Combs, whose debut with us today was most auspicious. His voice is lovely and sensitive, and he sang the challenging high notes of his concluding aria very bravely, with exceptional steadiness and grace. Next month, we’re taking on Cantata 71, another early gem, written for an inauguration of the town council. Like other examples of Bach’s early choral writing, this one is full of incredible detail, fidelity to text, and many colorful elements. I’ll post an essay about that soon. Thanks to everyone involved in today’s concert!