Sunday, May 26

Brighton Festival Chorus St John Passion

- April 8, 2015

Brighton Festival Chorus are always impressive but for this anniversary performance they pulled out all the stops. Bach’s complex score, peppered with contrapuntal lines and soaring solos is a tough ask and for their 500th anniversary they performed it without scores, a feat in itself. A feat however only worthwhile if you get it right – and this they did. Driven skillfully by conductor James Morgan and the Chamber Domaine this was a memorable afternoon of sublime music.
Performing in the round was an idea that worked – in part. There were moments cluttered by movement, but these paled into insignificance when the chorus surround the soloists as an angry mob, taunting Pilate and Christ. The semi-staged nature of the event worked best as the chorus used this format to add drama to their vocal performance. Here we heard real passion, and emotion that matched the excellent solos from Paul Reeve as Christus, Andrew Rupp as Pilate and the excellent Robert Murray as the Evangelist.
Isolating solo performers from the orchestra also added to the enveloping soundscape and Richard Harwood and Matthew Sharp’s cello continuo parts were eerily beautiful.
It is in performances of this calibre that one sees why the Brighton Festival Chorus has such an impressive international reputation and for that I salute them.
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
3 April
Andrew Kay
5 stars

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