Bach Choir at St Machar's Cathedral

Review by Roddy Phillips

There is no doubt Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 is one of the greatest choral works ever written with virtuosic solo movements and magisterial choruses.

The Vespers calls for a choir large enough and skilful enough to cover up to 10 vocal parts in some movements and split into separate choirs in others while accompanying six different soloists during the course of the work.

It’s complex and demands an understanding of the sort of music 100 years before Bach, so you can imagine the work Aberdeen Bach Choir and their Musical Director Gordon Jack must have put in for their performance of the Vespers at St Machar’s Cathedral last night.

Nearly four hundred years after its completion, the precise intentions of this large work remains a mystery. There was no debate last night however about its potency and its power to move and delight.

Accompanied by an excellent orchestra, including the authentic Cornetts and Sackbuts of the early music group Pro Cantione Antiqua and six outstanding professional soloists the Bach Choir created a work that was as moving as it was magnificent.

From the very opening with its splendid fanfare the period flavour was unmistakable. All the soloists were excellent but the duets by the sopranos Evelyn Tubb and Ruth Holton were particularly sublime evoking the textures so familiar in Monteverdi’s madrigals.

The fact that this was a single superb performance by such remarkable forces made it all the more extraordinary and memorable.

Aberdeen Press & Journal Monday 30 April 2007
Reproduced by kind permission of Roddy Phillips