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Bach: St John Passion

- St Swithun's School Performing Arts Centre

Jeremy Budd – Evangelist
Jonathan Brown – Christus
Marie Macklin – soprano
Sarah Denbee – mezzo soprano
Jonathan McGovern – bass

Winchester Music Club and Orchestra
Brian Howells – leader

Nicholas Wilks – conductor

The role of the servant was sung by Oliver Tarney
 
View rehearsal pictures.

Review

by Duncan Eves

Bach: St John Passion
Winchester Music Club Choir and Orchestra
 
The Performing Arts Centre at St. Swithun’s School provided an intimate atmosphere for Bach’s dramatic setting of the St. John Passion. With the choir occupying the stage and the orchestra and soloists filling the area in front of the stage, the audience was able to experience a very direct communication with the performers.
In any performance of the Bach Passions the role of the Evangelist is central and Jeremy Budd was excellent in conveying both the drama and the emotions of the narration. In the crowd scenes of Jesus’ Arrest and the Trial Before Pilate the choir reacted with urgency, their words coming across clearly in the exchanges between Pilate and the Jews. Jonathan Brown’s Christus had the necessary authority and gravitas, the voice of calm among the hysteria. The soloists were supported throughout by the skilled and sensitive continuo playing of Jamal Sutton (harpsichord) and Nikki Heinrich (cello).
Soprano, alto and bass soloists, Marie Macklin, Sarah Denbee and Jonathan McGovern, gave fine accounts of their arias, with some beautiful viola da gamba playing from Asako Morikawa. Instrumental solos from the orchestra were stylishly delivered and, as a change from the timbre of the period instruments that we are now so used to hearing, it was refreshing to hear the sound of modern instruments. The choir gave their all to Bach’s intricate harmonies and melodic strands and any slight insecurity in the German and in vocal entries may be easily forgiven when enthusiasm and commitment are so high. Nicholas Wilks, the inspirational force behind this, displayed his usual command of the music and the performers. As the final notes of the last chorus died away and the choir blazed into the light of the final chorale melody, we knew that Easter was on its way.