Bach und die Romantik – Bach and the Age of Romanticism
14 - 23 May 2004

My day at Bachfest: 19 May 2004

It was the day of ‘return of star’. Helmuth Rilling, who received this year’s Bach-Medal on 14 May, returned to Leipzig to perform the works by Bach and Mendelssohn.

No.29: Chorus and Orchestra Concert at Nikolaikirche, 20:00


J.S. Bach: Kantate „Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht“, BWV 105
J.S. Bach: Kantate „Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben“, BWV 147
F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Kyrie d-Moll
F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy: „Wie der Hirsch schreit nach frischem Wasser“, op. 42

Sibylla Rubens (Sopran), Ingeborg Danz (Alt), Andreas Karasiak (Tenor), Michael Nagy (Bass), Gächinger Kantorei, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Leitung: Helmuth Rilling

Nikolaikirche before the concert
  There is no question that this is a well-planned programme: it not only includes one of the most famous Bach cantatas (which must surely be an important factor for the general public), but also links Bach with Mendelssohn—the theme of this year’s Bachfest—to cater for the connoisseurs who specially came from all over the world to hear how Rilling would bridge the historical gap and produce ‘magic’, as he had done countless times in the past all over the world.

Still, I am sure I was not the only one among the audience who worried how Rilling would cope with the huge acoustic space of the Nikolaikirche, as we witnessed earlier in Kuijken’s concert a few days ago. However, it was a needless worry as we soon found out.
The first piece, BWV 105, flowed so well, with very tightly executed ensemble, that we were immediately assured that tonight’s concert would be a success. From where I sat (against the wall of the right wing section of the church), the balance of ensemble was not heard particularly well: the continuo section was sounded more loudly than necessary, and so it was difficult to judge how well the singer’s voice was projected to the great majority of the audience. Still, I thought that the soloists were excellent, among whom the bass was the best: his voice projection and communication with other performers were extremely clear and convincing. To my taste, the vibrato of the soprano was a little irritating, and the tenor (in Aria no.5) lacked sense of rhythm. But the obbligato violin was absolutely brilliant, which amply compensated for the lost sense of security and progression. The second piece, BWV 147, was also assuring performance, with a very reliable trumpet (mvt.1) and excellent oboe solo (mvt.3). The famous chorale (mvt.6) was rendered with fast flowing tempo, a confident projection of faith.  
Angle from where I sat

After the interval, Mendelssohn’s Kyrie started indistinctly, but it gradually revealed the world of its own. Cantata Op.42 exposed even more characters familiar with the Romantic era, which contrasted well with the works of Bach performed earlier. The rhythmic flow of the first movement was particularly convincing, and the rest of the concert was simply a treat after treat.

Yo Tomita

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