A lovely concert in Melbourne - Melbourne Baroque Orchestra's “The many faces of Bach”

Sandra Bowdler
September 22, 2023

One of the main attractions of this event was to have been the performance of Bach’s cantata Ich habe genug (BWV 82) by mezzo soprano Sally-Anne Russell.  Unfortunately she had to withdraw due to illness, but despite that disappointment, it was a most agreeable afternoon.  The slated second violinst was also unable to attend, leading to some re-arrangement of the previously announced program.

After an explanatory inroduction by harpsichordist Chad Kelly, the first item turned out to be Bach’s Cello Suite in G major (BWV 1007). In his introduction, Kelly described the facets of Bach we would be encountering, and this first number is said to exemplify “Bach the pedagogue”.  There was however nothing particularly pedagogical about Rosanne Hunt’s cello playing, as she dug down into the emotional depths on her deeply resonant 18th century instrument. The second item was the Harpsichord Concerto in D minor (BWV 1052), representing “Bach the frustrated virtuoso”. Again, there was nothing frustrated in the rendition but virtuosity was well to the fore. As well as Kelly’s keyboard skills, the strings also delighted  (Shane Lestideau and Felicité Heine, violins; Caroline Henbest, viola; Hunt; Bill Cawte, bass).

After a short interval, “Bach the pious servant of God” took centre stage, with the sinfonia from Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis (BWV 21) and the largo from the Organ sonata in C minor (BWV 526) leading us to the famous cantata.  In the event, we heard it as originally written for bass, in this case sung by Oliver Mann. As the ritornello was played, he made a sort of subdued grand entrance to the front of the ensemble, and launched into the text with evident sincerity, tonal accuracy and exquisite German diction.  Adam Masters accompanied on the oboe, swapping it for a cornetto for “Schlummert ein” and reverting to the oboe for “Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod”. A wonderful emotional journey enjoyed by all present.


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