Just a few notes about last Saturday’s concert by the Spectrum Singers, led by John Ehrlich. It was a crowded program, with two cantatas from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and the Bach Magnificat, all of which followed a couple of significant Schütz works and an old favorite, ‘Hodie Christus Natus Est’ by Jan Pietersoon Sweelinck.
Surely it’s churlish to complain of too much music, when it’s as good as this; it’s like telling a woman she has too many grandchildren--which one would you cut?
I don’t pass up chances to hear the orchestra of Emmanuel Music, and these soloists, performing Bach, but we got to 9:45 pm with another whole cantata to go, and I felt a bit weary. To say nothing of the orchestra doing so much work, back to back: Bach knew what he was about when he gave the trumpets three days rest, instead of five minutes.
Of course, they carried it off magnificently, as did the soli and the entire orchestra. Michael Curry’s cello playing was lovely and lyrical, especially on Thea Lobo’s aria in Part Six, and accompanying the ‘Suscepit Israel ‘in the Magnificat. Charles Blandy’s ‘Deposuit,’ in the Magnificat, had a particularly stirring accompaniment from the entire string section. The flutes, Jacqueline DeVoe and Vanessa Holroyd, shone in the ‘Esurientes’, which Ms. Lobo also sang beautifully.
Soprano Kendra Colton was warm and clear, as always. Baritone Donald Wilkinson’s extensive Bach resume was evident in his elegant Magnificat aria, and in the Oratorio’s recitatives, particularly his turn as Herod, when he said, chillingly, that he wanted to go and ‘worship’ (‘anbete’) the child. As the Evangelist, describing the Kings, Blandy gave a later use of the same word (‘beteten’) a veritable halo.
There was much to love about all that Bach--I was just left with a feeling that the very fine choral work in the first half may have been unjustly overshadowed. The Schütz German Magnificat was particularly lovely. Ehrlich deftly managed the changes of meter and color throughout, and the chorus’s excellent diction did justice to Schütz’ sensitivity to the text.
Congratulations to all involved.