Showing posts with label St John Passion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St John Passion. Show all posts

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Rousing performance of Bach classic

Bach's St John Passion

City Choir Dunedin, Dunedin Town Hall
Sunday 24 March 2024

Presented on Palm Sunday, J.S. Bach’s St John Passion was a memorable performance in German by a fired-up City Choir Dunedin under the baton of musical director David Burchell, who also played the harpsichord. Despite Covid reducing the ranks, more than 60 choir members joined soloists Iain Tetley, Patrick Shanahan, James Harrison, Caroline Burchell, Maaike Christie-Beekman and Lila Crichton on stage at the Dunedin Town Hall. Guest organist was John van Buskirk.

First performed on Good Friday in 1724, the Passion is based on two chapters of the Gospel of John, the final days and death of Christ.

Tenor Tetley took the pivotal role of the Evangelist, his clear diction vital in tracing events from the Garden of Gethsemane through Christ’s crucifixion to his burial.

Enhanced by the choral sections, the narration is interspersed with individual musical dialogue, principally from two basses Christ (Shanahan) and Pilate (Harrison). With Tetley, the three demonstrated superb balance and control in the questioning of Jesus by Pilate.

Alto Christie-Beekman as the maid gave a powerful rendition of Von den Stricken ("To release me from the bondage of my sinning") and then soprano Burchell enchanted the audience with her clarity and command in the moving aria I’ll Walk in Your Footsteps, accompanied by Dunedin Symphony Orchestra flautists.

Crichton gained in confidence as the story developed, his rich tenor a joy to the audience.

Christie-Beekman’s aria It is Finished, sung from memory, was a highlight — lead cellist David Murray playing the accompaniment to perfection.

The story is a long one, yet neither choir nor soloists flagged, tackling soaring arias and complex choral fugues with aplomb.

St John Passion ends with the choir’s uplifting Rest Well Holy Bones of the Saviour. City of Dunedin choir gave it everything they had, a fitting end to one of its best-ever performances.

It did Bach proud, unlike the two people in the audience whose cellphones rang during the concert.

Review by Gillian Vine, The Star, 28 March 2024

Monday, March 25, 2024

Passion still enthralling after 300 years

Bach's St John Passion

City Choir Dunedin, Dunedin Town Hall
Sunday 24 March 2024

Bach wrote the St John Passion in 1724, and for 300 years audiences have been enthralled by the enormity and poignancy of this work. Yesterday afternoon, an average-sized Dunedin audience had the thrill of hearing this work performed by City Choir Dunedin and the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra conducted confidently by David Burchell.

From the opening chorus it was obvious that the choir was in fine form. Entries were secure, tone was well-supported and voice parts were well-balanced. This continued throughout; the choir alternating between reflective chorales, choruses, and crowd interjections which produced some electrifying moments. However, the German diction needed greater clarity.

The Evangelist, Iain Tetley, bears the responsibility of delivering the story. Tetley did this admirably varying tone colour and tempo to the mood.

In the role of Christ, Patrick Shanahan has the appropriate vocal timbre and sang with good resonance. However, his lack of eye contact and dramatic body language tended to diminish the interpretation of this role.

The four soloists were well matched.

Caroline Burchell’s clear soprano voice filled the auditorium well and she sang with a good understanding of baroque style.

Maaike Christie-Beekman’s first aria was somewhat overwhelmed by the obbligato instruments, but her second aria Es ist Vollbracht was passionately sung from memory. This was a real highlight.

Lila Crichton has a warm timbre to his voice matching the arias well.

Bass, James Harrison, who sang the role of Pilate, as well as the bass arias, was dramatic, convincing and powerful.

The support of the orchestra was unwavering, with the obbligato outstanding. David Murray (cello) and John van Buskirk (organ) accompanied the recitatives fluently, with Burchell conducting arias from the harpsichord.

All in all, a moving performance.

Review by Judy Bellingham, Otago Daily Times 25 March 2024

Friday, April 9, 2010

Accolades for St John Passion

This letter from Dr David Galloway (Dr Patricia Payne, the opera singer’s husband) was published in the ODT this morning:

Monday 29 March, 2010

Editor Otago Daily Times

Yesterday I attended Bach’s St John Passion by the City of Dunedin Choir and the Southern Sinfonia in the Town Hall. To hear this wonderfully dramatic work sung with such warmth and conviction (and dare I say passion) in German, the language of its composition, was a treat indeed. The performance easily bears comparison with any British or European live performances of the work that I have heard. Besides the splendid contributions of conductor, soloists, choir and orchestra, the continuo players (organ, cello and flute) sensitively and deftly provided accompaniments to the several solo arias, adding a further dimension of great subtlety and beauty to the whole work. It was a glorious start to Holy Week. Warmest congratulations to the City of Dunedin Choir and their supporters, for allowing us to share in this outstanding musical event. More please!

David Galloway (Opoho)