Sunday, 7 October 2012

Bach Unwrapped

BWV 1001
Bach's manuscript
Kings Place's main focus for 2013 is their Bach unwrapped series with 14 weeks of concerts and events covering pretty well all aspects of Bach's output, including his influence on other composers. There are also a  wide variety of performers, pianos as well as harpsichords, period instruments and modern instruments, choirs of men and boys, choirs of men and women, a viol consort and a string quartet, so there is a real chance to compare and contrast.


There are solo works for keyboard, flute, violin and for cello including Rachel Podger in the violin sonatas. Keyboard concerts cover piano, harpsichord and organ. The viol consort Fretwork play the Art of Fugue as do the Keller Quartet, with Florilegium performing the Musical Offering.

Florilegium, the Wallfisch Band, La Nuova Musica with Robin Blaze, the Royal Academy of Music Baroque Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Academy of St. Martins in the Fields all perform cantatas though inevitably we don't get all of them, just 26.

The Sixteen give us the motets and masses with the Choir of New College Oxford performing the Magnificat in D. And of course there are the passions. The St. Matthew is performed by Kings College Choir and the Academy of Ancient Music under Stephen Cleobury with James Gilchrist as the Evangelist and David Wilson-Johnson as Christus with Joanne Lunn, James Laing, Thomas Walker and Stephan Loges. Clare College Choir and the Aurora Orchestra under Nicholas Collon do the St John with John Mark Ainsley as the Evangelist and a cast that includes Iestyn Davies, Malin Christensson and Andrew Tortise. The Platinum Consort (a mixed voice chamber choir) do the Christmas Oratorio with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Scott Inglis-Kidger with soloists being taken from the choir. They are only performing parts 1, 3, 5 and 6, which seems a great shame and a lost opportunity.

None of these are being done one to a part, with seems like another missed opportunity. Its unclear whether any of the cantatas are being performed like that, but it would have been wonderful to hear a passion or the Mass in B minor done with one singer per part in the Kings Place acoustic.

There are plenty of concertos, including the reconstructed oboe d'amore concerto and the reconstructed concerto for three violins. We only get one concerto for two harpsichords and don't get the concerto for four harpsichords which I always think is rather fun. But then the platform at Kings Place might be a bit small for four harpsichords plus band! John Butt and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are performing the Brandenburg Concertos over three evenings.

When it comes to Bach's influence, we get the London Sinfonietta in Steve Reich's Vermont Counterpoint and Cello Counterpoint, and Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks, members of the Aurora Orchestra will be playing Schnittke's Piano Quintet and there are concerts extending Bach into Jazz and beyond.

The season concludes on 21 December 2013 with the choir of Clare College, Cambridge and the Aurora Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Collon in the Mass in B Minor with a strong solo line-up of Sophie Bevan, Rosemary Joshua, William Towers, Andrew Staples and Benedict Nelson.

Full details from the Kings Place website.

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