Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Sonic Fireworks" – CONCORA Triumphs in Bach Motets

I haven't had much chance to write lately, but here's a wonderful review of CONCORA's all-Bach Motet Madness. It was my great good fortune to sing in this concert, an experience that I will never forget. I'll try to write about it a bit more soon.

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CONCORA Performs Inspiring Bach Motet Cycle At Immanuel Church
Jeffrey Johnson
The Hartford Courant, March 2, 2010
CONCORA explored Bach's demanding cycle of six motets Sunday in a breathless performance at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford, and found an audience willing to follow them anywhere.

The four shorter motets comprised the first half of the program, and conductor Richard Coffey organized them in an extremely satisfying order. "Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden" opened the event in a sprint. CONCORA sang lines like sonic fireworks and presented textures that danced and swayed.
"Komm, Jesu, komm" followed. This motet contains a passage at the end of its first stanza where Bach unexpectedly lingered. CONCORA interpreted it with an understated feel that made a reflection on "divine truth" and "the life" seem authentic and inviting, rather than intimidating.

"Fürchte dich nicht" was most impressive in its concluding passage where a chromatic fugue with falling lines was heard with superimposed interjections of sweet soprano singing. [!!]

"Der Geist hilft" has a beautiful moment in the first fugue where the text presented crunchy German consonants in a lovely scattering.

After intermission, we heard "Jesu, Meine Freunde." This 11-movement work has been celebrated for its symmetry of design. The movements are organized around a central double fugue, with groupings on either side that echo one another. CONCORA sang the double fugue with lightness and centered on the wonderful music of the ninth movement: "gute Nacht, o Wesen" (Good night, existence). The program closed with "Singet dem Herrn." The organization of the two choirs on opposite sides of the altar, with each vocal part in separate pews, made the design of the "Die Kinder Zion" fugue visually clear, helping us focus on the complexities surrounding these entries, the dances with drums and harps that are mentioned in the text seemed to emerge from the midst of swirling music.

Throughout, Coffey conducted with relaxed but precise motions and transmitted a sense of confidence. Though it may have escaped notice of many listeners, the almost continual presence of support from organist Edward Clark was an important element.

Many in the audience have declared themselves "Friends of Bach" by joining the organization of that name through CONCORA. These "Friends" met this energized and informed performance with a wall of applause for this fabulous event.

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Were you in the audience for this magical performance? Do you love Bach? Membership in Friends of Bach is open to all Bach-lovers. Call the CONCORA office at 860-224-7500 for more information.