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Review by David Richards
Toronto ON February 10th 2017
Choir Director Ivars Taurins, Tafelmusik Chamber Choir and Tafelmusic Baroque Orchestra
Last night at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity St. Paul's Centre, Tafelmusik did what they do best…they performed the music of J.S.Bach. This time, the choir took centre stage under the direction of the choir's Founding Director Ivars Taurins. Instead of two or three complete cantatas, the choir and orchestra performed individual chorales from a number of cantatas interspersed with parts of a Lutherin mass. The inclusion of a few of Bach’s instrumental works added to the richness of the program. Entitled A Bach Tapestry, the concert was as Taurins pointed out, a 'comprehensive exhibition' of Bach's music in much the same way in which art galleries mount exhibitions of an individual artist's work.
At the outset of the concert, oboist John Abberger announced the long-awaited appointment of Tafelmusik’s new Artistic Director. Elisa Citterio’s appointment was leaked to the media a few weeks ago, but the news was greeted with an enthusiastic response from the audience last night. She will move to Toronto from her home in Italy in July and will be joining Tafelmusik in performances this spring.
At the heart of this concert, were chorale movements from a number of Cantatas from different weeks of the church year. Beginning with joyous celebration in the first chorus Sei Lob Und Ehr from Cantata 117, the choir and orchestra rang out with jubilant, well-tuned, stylish and precisely delivered music. Taurins coaxed the best out of both orchestra and choir with his clear and expressive direction.
Tenor Cory Knight and bass Joel Allison sang beautifully with choir and orchestra in the chorus Aller Augen Warten,from Cantata 23. Violinist Cristina Zacharias stepped out of her concertmaster's role for a solo violin obligato in the chorus Ihr Werdet Weinen from Cantata 103.
Instrumental works included Adagio e dolce BWV 527/2 for 2 violins and continuo performed elegantly by Genevieve Gilardeau, Christopher Verette, Allen Wear and Charlotte Nediger as well as a Sarabande for harpsichord with Nediger performing.
Most choruses and chorales were likely new to many in the audience. The Mass in G Major BWV 236 is one of several that Bach wrote for the Lutherin church in Leipzig. The Kyrie and Gloria were sung before Jesu, Bleibet Meine Freude from Cantata 147, the chorale ending the first half. This was as familiar as any of Bach’s music. Better known as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, Taurins gave a spirited interpretation. He took a tempo that made the most of the dance music, and as the choir came in with the chorale melody, it sang with a sweet eloquence.
The second half included five lesser known choruses and chorales. A very interesting instrumental inclusion was Bach’s Italian Concerto performed not as it is usually heard on piano, or as originally written for harpsichord, but transcribed for two violins and string orchestra. Julian Wedman and Patricia Ahern gave a sparkling performance. The concert concluded with another well known Lutherin hymn-tune Und Wenn die Welt from Cantata 80 and Cum Sancto Spiritu from Mass in G Major, BWV 236. These two spirited works were an uplifting end to the program.
David Fallis, Artistic Director of the Toronto Consort gave a spirited talk prior to the concert about the interesting aspects and origins of Bach’s church music in Lutherin hymn tunes, his use of different kinds of counterpoint and his production of a new cantata for every week of the church calendar.
The concert will be repeated at Jeanne Lamon Hall through February 12th and again at George Weston Recital Hall on February 14th. Prior to the concerts at Jeanne Lamon Hall, David Fallis will give pre-concert chats for all ticket-holders.
Tafelmusik Choir and Orchestra perform Bach with spirit and style!