Saturday, February 01, 2014
Weekend Concerts Three: American Bach Soloists
The American Bach Soloists are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year under the direction of Artistic and Music Director Jeffrey Thomas, and last weekend's concert started with the half-dozen musicians who have been with the group since the beginning standing and taking a bow.
Then the small period instruments orchestra, the excellent American Bach Choir, and a quintet of soloists launched into a lively, jubilant all-Johann Sebastian Bach program that felt completely celebratory. The first piece they played, complete with drums and trumpets, was a 1733 Cantata for the Birthday of the Electress of Saxony and Queen of Poland.
Lucky Polish queen, the music was magnificent and the performance expert. I particularly enjoyed the two soloists above, countertenor Eric Jurenas above left and the English tenor Guy Cutting above right, with the expert continuo playing of Corey Jameson above center.
This was followed by Sandra Miller above on a Baroque flute giving a marvelous solo performance within the Orchestral Suite in B Minor that had many in the audience gasping at her virtuosity.
After intermission we were treated to the Cantata for the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, and for the final chorale the audience was invited to join in the singing, with the vocal parts published in the program. It was an inspired idea, a reminder that much of Bach's church music was meant to be sung by its Lutheran congregation, and the many amateur singers in the audience made for an immersive, beautiful sound.
The final piece was Bach's famous 1733 Magnificat, with soprano soloist Clara Rottsolk above at one point singing a trio with mezzo Danielle Reutter-Harrah and countertenor Jurenas that was breathtaking.
Even though exhausted from too much culture in too short a time, I walked out of San Francisco's St. Mark's Lutheran Church Sunday evening energized and happy. Congratulations on the anniversary, ABS.