Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bach Players - Bach - 07/24/11

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No 5 in D Major
Bach: Cantata 8 (Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben?)

It is a well-known fact that desperation can make people do strange things, so imagine desperation time two! That’s how I found myself in a Lutheran Church last Sunday afternoon, with the double goal to revel in some long-overdue live music and to escape my AC-deprived apartment in a still very hot city. The Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Central Park West did not turn out to be much cooler than my little home, but hearing Bach’s riveting compositions in such a lovely environment was nevertheless a very pleasant way to bring the weekend to an end.
Never mind the fact that the three movements of the concerto were not going to be performed nonstop from beginning to end, but instead be interspersed by preaching, praying, singing, rising and seating as well as money collecting (And to think that some people complain about some brief clapping between movements!). At least these Vespers had the merit of unfolding as it would have in Bach’s time, and we did not have much of a choice anyway.

The Brandenburg Concerto No 5 remains among Bach’s most popular works, and even when taking into account my natural aversion to the flute and the harpsichord, I have to admit that it is very addictive music indeed. Last Sunday was no exception as its perky sounds assuredly conjured up happy thoughts thanks to all the virtuosic playing. The three movements were performed by the highly regarded Bach Players in the space reserved for the organ, high above ground in the back of the church, and after deciding that twisting myself to face them wouldn’t be a good idea in the long run, I simply got to enjoy the live music coming from the back. Not ideal, but after almost a month of contenting myself with a steady diet of CDs, it was pretty satisfying.
Predictably enough revolving around the concepts of death, punishment and redemption, the German composer’s Cantata No 8 was the perfect opportunity to hear not only instrumental music, but a wide range of singing as well with two sopranos, an alto, a tenor and a bass. Individually and together, they added some nice human touches to the brief six movements blissfully performed, this time, one after the other and in front of the audience. So all things considered, this little local expedition turned out to be a nice little interlude while patiently waiting for bigger and better opportunities.

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