Music / CIMF, Concert 10 – “St John Passion”, Fitters Workshop, May 6. REVIEWED BY Len Power
IT was a memorable evening at the Fitters Workshop when the Canberra International Music Festival presented a major performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “St John Passion”.
First performed in 1724 in Leipzig, Germany, the work is in two halves and was originally intended to flank a sermon. The libretto consists of recitatives and choruses narrating the “Passion of Christ” as told in the Gospel of John as well as ariosos and arias reflecting on the action and chorales.
Directed by Korneel Bernolet, the Bach Akademie Australia, led by Madeleine Easton with nine solo voices, gave a shining and memorable performance of this glorious and highly emotional work.
In the demanding role of the Evangelist, tenor Andrew Goodwin gave an outstanding performance of great sensitivity and emotion. Bass Jeremy Kleeman was in fine voice in the role of Jesus and bass David Greco sang the role of Pilatus with a strong commanding quality.
Sopranos Susannah Lawergren and Amy Moore, tenors Richard Butler and Dan Walker, and altos Anna Fraser and Hannah Fraser all sang their roles superbly.
Rather than employing a separate choir, the chorales were sung by the soloists. These highly capable performers singing together gave the chorales a thrilling sound that became some of the highlights of the whole performance.
“St John Passion” is a work that requires a high level of concentration by the audience. With their fine playing and singing, this musical ensemble ensured the audience’s engagement throughout. The standing ovation at the end of the performance was well-deserved.