Concert Review: Bach Musica, Holy Trinity Cathedral

By William Dart

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Bach Musica, with conductor Rita Paczian. Photo / Supplied
Bach Musica, with conductor Rita Paczian. Photo / Supplied

Thanks to Bach Musica's indefatigable director, Rita Paczian, the group's Journey to Salzburg and Vienna treated a reasonably large audience to a first-class musical trip on Sunday.

The opening Mozart Sinfonia Concertante must be one of the composer's most personal works (Mozart probably played the viola part at the first performance in 1779).

Its opening Allegro is as graceful a maestoso as one could wish for and the lyricism of the central Andante almost melts on the page.

Violinist Sarah McCracken and violist Julia Joyce were extremely responsive to the special partnership that this score gives them. If McCracken was occasionally pinched in tone, then Joyce more than compensated with tonal warmth and generosity, drawing her colleague into some shapely duetting.

The Holy Trinity acoustics are not flattering at the best of times and on this occasion they conspired to thicken the texture.

Nevertheless Paczian's baton ensured crisp delivery and conviviality of spirit. The opening tutti was thrilling, bass lines strode with authority from the start and horn and oboes were agreeably mellow.

After the interval, the full forces of Bach Musica gave us the Southern Hemisphere premiere of Heinrich Biber's Missa Bruxellensis.

Intended as a spectacular piece of public worship in Salzburg Cathedral, this score was a mammoth undertaking for the group.

Orchestrally, Paczian achieved an attractive blend, with a strong double reed section, generally reliable trumpets and idiomatic strings. James Tibbles' continuo work on chamber organ was a model of excellence.

The choir was in good form, with confident fugal sorties and impressive vocal control in Biber's often massive chordal writing.

Jayne Tankersley's clear soprano solos floated over proceedings but she had the perfect foil in Sarah Court's securely focused alto.

Three male soloists (Anthony Schneider, Michael Gray and Moses Mackay) impressed with their confidence and sense of style.

Afterwards one could feel the deep appreciation from both audience and musicians for being able to experience this piece.

Doubtlessly, many will be looking forward to Bach Musica's unusual Christmas offering on December 17 - Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ.

- NZ Herald

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