Last night the audience was privy to a thrilling performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor. Not often performed in its entirety, as it has four distinct sections with the Sanctus being the most well-known, it is a challenging, demanding piece particularly for the choir who perform in most of the sections.
Many of the musicians also had the opportunity to be highlighted as there were frequent opportunities for them to demonstrate their musical talents – notably the flautist Alison Mitchell; the guest leader Sarah Sexton; the guest cellist Luise Buchberger; the cor anglais player Rosie Staniforth; the guest horn player Steve Stirling; the bassoonists Peter Whelan and Alison Green and the bass player Nikita Naumov.
Jonathan Cohen was the ebullient guest conductor and harpsichord player [stepping for Richard Egarr who had to cancel due to illness] and kept a good tempo throughout this lengthy composition which is a musical setting of the complete Latin Mass beginning with the choir singing Kyrie eleison – Lord, have mercy – and ending with Dona nobis pacem – Grant us peace.
There were four soloists in the performance, all of whom had great breath control. Lorna Anderson, soprano, whose wonderful powerful voice blended beautifully in the Laudamus te with the violin solo, impeccably played by Sarah Sexton. The Mezzo Soprano Kitty Whately, a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, whose voice is full of gravitas, despite her youth. The Tenor, Andrew Tortise had a rich warm sound as had the Bass Baritone Stephan Loges – despite his slight figure.
There were only two hiccups in the performance. In the Credo in unum Deum passage which we heard directly after the interval, the tenors begin before the orchestra and they hesitated before finding the right note. And in the Quoniam tu siolus sanctus, with its famous complex horn solo, the player was standing at the back of the orchestra which resulted in a rather muffled sound being created. Apart from that, it was a marvellous performance with the SCO choir, under the guidance of their Chorusmaster Gregory Batsleer, quite surpassing themselves in the Sanctus.
Friday 13th December 19.30pm – City Halls, Glasgow.
£14 - £28