Portrait Of Faith – CityLife

Posted on April 23, 2012

Conductor Nicholas Kraemer’s concert designed for Holy Week with Manchester Camerata in Manchester Cathedral is reviewed in CityLife by critic Robert Beale.

Nicholas KraemerFor some, all classical music speaks to the soul, but for Kraemer there are a few pieces that do so particularly.

He had three works by J S Bach on the programme – one of them, the great Chaconne in D minor, which was played by orchestra leader Adi Brett, an unaccompanied violin solo long seen as a pinnacle of solemn expression.

There was John Tavener’s Eternal Memory, for solo cello (Hannah Roberts) and strings. As in Arvo Pärt’s Summa, which came later in the evening, its serener moments – brief as both pieces are – were handled tellingly.

But it was the two Bach cantatas and Beethoven’s Elegischer Gesang that formed the substance of the evening.

The Beethoven (a memorial to a personal friend who died very young) was sung by the RNCM Chamber Choir with a blended, balanced and accurate choral sound that did them great credit.

The textures of Bach’s early cantata, Christ Lag In Todesbanden, proved a greater challenge for them (and the orchestra at times) – but the summit of the entire evening was Ich Habe Genug, cantata no. 82, for baritone solo (Roderick Williams) and with oboe obbligato (Rachael Clegg).

Williams’ own excursus on it for solo oboe, Enough, was a preparatory foil, but the abiding memory was of the unearthly beauty of Bach’s music in the three arias that make up its main substance.

The soloists, vocal and instrumental, imparted great beauty to their lines, and the extraordinary thing was the way in which the mind and faith of an 18th century provincial German musician – relatively obscure, even in his own time – spoke vividly to our 21st century consciousness.

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