St John Passion - JS Bach
With the mixed choirs of Norwich Cathedral, directed by Ashley Grote, Master of Music
PERFECT PRELUDE TO HOLY WEEK
Bach's St John Passion, a perfect prelude to Holy Week, was performed under the direction of Ashley Grote by the Cathedral Lay-Clerks, Choristers and Girls Choir with Jim O'Toole's Norwich Baroque and a fine team of soloists.
Blending strength with calm authority James Oldfield took the part of Christus while as the Evangelist William Blake was a clear narrator who knew just when an extra touch of feeling was needed.
Laura Oldfield (soprano), James Neville (countertenor), and two lay-clerks, Daniel Bartlette (tenor) and Dhilan Gnanadurai (bass), showed style and skill in the difficult ornate solos that reflected on events and their spiritual significance. Their message was enhanced by fluent and tuneful instrumental support, particularly from Richard Tunnicliffe on the gamba.
The chorus was attentive and energetic in this lengthy work with its many short and sometimes explosive episodes that demand instant response. Though Haste Ye Souls rather lacked impact, the dramatic crowd scenes came over well, some even with a degree of malice.
Though the chorales had sturdy vigour, more emotion might perhaps have been drawn out of Bach's harmonies, and there were times when more truly hushed singing would have been welcome