Bach: St John Passion
Academy Choir & Baroque Players, Matthew Best
St John’s, Wimbledon, 12 March 2022
Choral societies have a long and noble tradition in the UK. They provide much-needed employment opportunities for the young professional musicians brought in as soloists as well as giving the opportunity to perform for the vast body of amateur singers whose membership fees keep the shows on the road. The Academy Choir is one such. It was founded in Wimbledon in 1980 and since 2000 has been based at the church of St John the Baptist, Spencer Hill, Wimbledon. It is an auditioned choir, rather than taking all-comers, and the musical standards are obviously high. Since 2017 their musical director has been Matthew Best. My invitation to review their performance of the St John Passion promised that “our concerts tend to be ‘a cut above’ what might typically be expected to be found in a suburban church, given by a local choir”, a claim that proved itself correct.
The Spirit of Christmas
Philippa Hyde, Canzona, Theresa Caudle
Recorded at the Church of the Ascension, Burghclere, 21 December 2020
Torelli: Concerto In forma di pastorale per il Santissimo Natale
Bach: Wie lieblich klingt es in den Ohren
Arcangelo Corelli: Concerto Fatto per la notte di natale
Handel Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; I know that my Redeemer liveth
Alessandro Scarlatti: Cantata pastorale per la nascità di Nostro Signor
Among the plethora of live-streams and videod concerts Burghclere Baroque, managed to put on a real concert with a real (but limited) audience in the Church of the Ascension in the village of Burghclere, on the Tier 2 side of North Hampshire close to the border of what is now Tier 4 Berkshire. It was a well-timed event – one day later, and a concert audience may well have been impossible, although a recording could have gone ahead. The concert is now available to watch on YouTube free of charge, although donations are obviously not only welcome but, in these straightened times for musicians, are pretty well essential. Donations will be divided equally between topping up the fees of the performers and the film and sound crew, to support future concerts in Burghclere, and to the Help Musicians UK Coronavirus Financial Hardship Fund.
Bach and the Italian Concerto
Academy of Ancient Music
Milton Court Concert Hall, 15 February 2017
Bach: Concerto for oboe d’amore in D major
Vivaldi: Concerto for violin in G minor
Albinoni: Concerto for oboe in D minor
Vivaldi: Concerto for two violins in A minor
Bach: Italian Concerto
A Marcello: Concerto for oboe in D minor
Groups like the Academy of Ancient Music often perform with soloists drawn from their own ranks, with understandably excellent results. This was one such occasion, when four of the AAM’s regular orchestral players stepped into the soloist limelight. The focus was on the influence of Italian music on Bach, with a sub-plot of the Italian music that Bach transcribed for harpsichord organ. Indeed Alistair Ross, the AAM’s principal keyboard continuo player, suggested during the pre-concert talk that he could perform the entire concert programme on his own on organ and harpsichord.
The instrumental focus of the concert was on the oboe and oboe d’amore, played by Frank de Bruine. He opened with the latter instrument in Bach’s Concerto for oboe d’amore in D, the husky tone of the oboe d’amore (pitched lower than the normal baroque oboe) revealing exactly why it was one of Bach’s favourite instruments. Continue reading