Review - 11 May 2013

Bach at his best!

What a shame that greater numbers did not attend Bridgwater Choral Society’s recent performance of the Bach B Minor Mass in St Mary’s Church. One of the greatest choral works of the Baroque period, Bach’s Mass is an immense test of stamina for singers and instrumentalists alike and congratulations must be extended to musical director Iain Cooper for bringing together such an excellent performance.

The Choir sang with great commitment and clarity and for the most part tuning was well maintained. As is typical of large works by many great composers, the most demanding movements occur near the end of the work and this Mass is no exception! The Choir have two exciting and exhausting choruses in the Sanctus and Hosanna and these were performed with great energy and dynamism. Parts were well-balanced and the many semiquavers danced along to the triumphant final chords. Generally the continuity of the Mass was well achieved with just a few places where changes of speed took a few moments to settle the ensemble between singers and instrumentalists.

The audience were treated to the vocal sounds of five excellent soloists. Eleanor Ross and Mary Morgan soprano, Fiona Mackay alto, Paul Smy tenor and Szymon Wach bass who stood in at short notice due to illness.

The orchestra under Brigid Kirkland-Wilson were kept very busy throughout the evening and achieved a light, dance-like style through their well-controlled articulation. Particular mention should be made of the fine, high trumpet playing required for some choruses, adding an exciting brilliance that made the music come alive at its majestic climaxes. It was also a treat to hear the rich, warm tones of the oboe d’amore accompanying an alto and bass solo.

The evening came to a successful close with the stately Dona nobis pacem where the Choir produced a pleasingly serene and sustained sound to end a truly great work.

Frances Webb