|Ottawa Bach Choir delivers outstanding performance|
|Écrit par RICHARD TODD, OTTAWA CITIZEN | Lundi, 12 Mars 2012 00:00|
Who: Ottawa Bach Choir, Ottawa Children's Choir, Christ Church Cathedral Boys Choir, soloists, Baroque orchestra, Lisette Canton, conductor, Adrian Butterfield, concertmaster
OTTAWA — A very full house, probably on the order of 900 listeners, greeted the Ottawa Bach Choir's presentation of Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion. True, some of the corner pews were occupied by members of the two youth choirs collaborating in the performance and no doubt proud relatives accounted for another portion of the audience.
But it's probably safe to say that most people came to hear what promised to be an outstanding performance of one of the greatest works of all music.
It's doubtful that any were disappointed.
The good news began immediately when the Baroque orchestra assembled for the occasion rendered the introduction with consummate focus.
When the double chorus entered moments later, the weight and texture of the singing were exactly right. Better still, there was a great depth of feeling without the patina of sentimentality that we hear too often.
The two youth choirs were most impressive in their parts soaring over the main double choir. It was a little disappointing seeing the young singers putting on their coats to go home at intermission, but Bach didn't give them anything to do in Part II.
Although the Passion is quite a long work, a bit over three hours not counting an intermission, Saturday's performance was consistently gripping. That can be credited first of all to Lisette Canton's musical direction, but special mention is due to two of the soloists.
The all-important role of the Evangelist was sung by tenor Charles Daniels. He had the sound and displayed the demeanour of an accomplished raconteur telling a story of the greatest urgency and excitement.
I can state without hesitation that his was the most compelling interpretation of the Evangelist I've heard. When it was his turn to acknowledge the applause after the last chorus had finished, the audience roared.
Bass Stephan MacLeod sang the comparatively brief role Jesus with strength and dignity. His voice had just the right timbre, though there were occasional suggestions of strain.
All of the soloists were good. Bass Daniel Lichti, counter-tenor Daniel Taylor and soprano Suzie LeBlanc were particularly notable.
The Bach Choir, augmented by a few singers and split as the score requires into Chorus I and II, was solid throughout the evening. Together with the Evangelist and other soloists, they created a thrilling mob scene in the episode with Pontius Pilate.
It was 10 years ago that Canton and her Bach Choir first appeared before the public. They did the St. Matthew Passion then too. My memory isn't good enough to compare the performances, but if the original was half as good as Saturday's it was already outstanding.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen