Auckland Arts Festival: Stirred by coffee-house sounds

By William Dart

Age of Discovery serves up a refreshing double shot of Bach in cabaret atmosphere.

James Tibbles was both MD and MC. Photo / Supplied
James Tibbles was both MD and MC. Photo / Supplied

At three on Sunday afternoon, it may have been a little early for English high tea, but the cabaret-style seating in the concert chamber aimed to recreate the spirit of an 18th century German coffee-house.

The Age of Discovery's Coffee with Mr Bach featured a spirited pairing of the Coffee Cantata and the composer's D minor Concerto for three harpsichords.

James Tibbles, both MD and MC, urged us not to hold back; we were free at any time to "meander to the coffee table" for another charge of caffeine. Well drilled in concert etiquette, few took his advice.

The Cantata's amiable satire still draws smiles in our barista-driven age.

In full 18th century costuming, soprano Jayne Tankersley was the coffee-obsessed Lieschen with Ian Campbell as her irate father, while young tenor Lachlan Craig presented connecting recitatives and joined in the final trio.

It was well sung. Campbell fulminated with intelligence while navigating often unforgiving lines, while Craig's crisply pointed contributions makes one eager to hear him sing Mozart and Britten later this year as part of his university studies.

Tankersley had just the right theatrical elan and was nicely complemented by Sally Tibbles' flute when she confessed her inordinate coffee-love in Ei! Wie schmeckt der Kaffee susse, floating over Darija Andzakovic's sonorous pizzicato bass.

After a short break, we were treated to a spectacular trio of harpsichords in the D minor Concerto. Rippling through the first movement, soloists James Tibbles, Edward Giffney and Grace Francis caught the balance of contest and co-operation.

The pungency of the Siciliana second movement inspired some shapely playing from Graham McPhail and his small band. The shivery shimmer of the two-bar Adagio took us to an energised final Allegro.


What: Coffee with Mr Bach
Where: Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber

- NZ Herald

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