CIMF review / A morning of glorious music

Music / CIMF Concert 5: “Bach on Sunday”. At the Fitters Workshop, April 29. Reviewed by IAN McLEAN

“Bach on Sunday” at the Fitters Workshop. Photo by PETER HISLOP

AFTER a happy, but noisy and boisterous, week celebrating an Army reunion with fellow ex-Army apprentices it was an absolute change of pace to sit in the serenity of the Fitters Workshop to revel in “Bach on Sunday”.

The calm atmosphere was perfect. Autumn had arrived with a slight chill in the air but warming sunlight still beamed through the white curtains of the huge windows.

The gentle instrumental “Sonatina” introduced “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit”, a cantata initially sad in its story of inevitable death then majestic as that death leads to the joys of Heaven.

A screen has been erected high behind the stage and this enabled projected images of the English translation of the German text. This was an innovative and welcome addition to the Fitters, the primary Festival venue.

Playing was crisp and clean from an unusual instrumentation that featured recorders, strings (including two x viola de gamba) and organ. The fine playing was complemented by four excellent vocal soloists with Canberra’s countertenor, Tobias Cole, singing the alto part. Baritone Andrew O’Connor was quite outstanding with a voice of wonderful depth and projection.

“Bach on Sunday” at the Fitters Workshop. Photo by PETER HISLOP

A spirited and lively performance of the “Brandenburg Concerto No 2” followed. It was exciting and most enjoyable even though the rapid tempo made life tricky for Richard Fomison, player of the baroque trumpet, who had a mis-pitching moment or two.

The printed program noted that Bach had not been shy in demanding stratospheric virtuosity from his trumpeters – this particular part has daunted many players during the last 200 years.

The “Sonata in G minor for viola de gamba No 3” brought the pace back a bit and was played quite perfectly by Daniel Yeadon and Neal Peres Da Costa.

The gamba is not an instrument with great projection so balance was a little issue. These days a sound board or strategically placed microphone would be most acceptable and would add to musical enjoyment.

The cantata,”Er rufet seinen Schafen”, featuring nearly the complete instrumentation of the Bach Akademie Australia, was deftly directed by Madeleine Easton as it completed the 75-minute program.

Again, this was delightful music brought to life by expert players and singers. The wonderful sound produced easily outweigh the few balance issues when, in the alto aria, the recorders overly dominated and then again in the Andrew Fysh rich bass aria when the two baroque trumpets overpowered the voice too much.

However, these irritations were minor and hardly dented the enjoyable experience of a morning of glorious music, all written by one of the great masters.

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