About Me

Llantwit Major, Wales, United Kingdom
I am mother, librarian, avid reader, sf fan, writer (unpubished), singer(amateur), animal lover, needlewoman.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bach is best

We went to see Bach's Mass in B minor at St David's Hall on Friday.

It was wonderful.

I've never heard it all the way through and certainly never seen it live, and it was well worth it.

Performers were the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, with a brilliant line up of soloists, all of whom were exactly what I would chose - not a warble to be heard thank god.

The chorus was equally impressive. It is astonishing when you listen to all these choral things the BBC do to realise that all the large choirs are amateurs. The only professional choir the BBC employs is the BBC Singers, all others are doing it for the love, and they did it fantastically.

The Mass is extraordinary in many ways, not least being the oddity of a Lutheran protestant writing a complete mass. It is remarkable how the music really captures the mood and meaning of the words, so that even in a concert setting there is a strong feeling of the litugical power of the mass. It lasts nearly 2 hours, so that if anyone ever wanted to use it as a mass it would be a very long service!

We weren't sitting in the best place because B got given free tickets for the students (minibus full of them were with him, I drove in), so the sound from the choir got a bit muddy when they were really letting rip at full volume, and we also got a bit more double bass than was ideal, but it was still wonderful

There is something about Bach that is simultaneously serene, because Baroque music follows strict patterns and there is an expectation built into how the piece will progress, and startling emotional. It is also remarkably original and even sounds original now. One passage has the bass singing the words, but the interesting line is a solo horn, with only continuo organ going on underneath. The piece moves from full orchestra and choir all going like the clappers, to one voice and 2 or 3 instruments only. Stunning.

He is still my desert island composer. The trouble would be which piece to take. I must get a cd of the mass as I don't have one. It is sublime. In all senses.

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