Holy Week Bach review

A wonderful Holy Week Bach sequence reviewed by Christopher Morley

Lana Trotovsek and Tenebrae
St John's, Smith Square, London
From more than half a century of reviewing it would be difficult for me to recall anything more moving at this special time in the Christian church calendar than this Holy Week Festival presentation offered by St John's, Smith Square.
The church ambience, subtly lit both by candles and soft lighting, allied to its perfect acoustic, provided a wonderful setting for this reflective Bach sequence, built around the movements of the D minor Partita for solo violin, interspersed by choral offerings of passion settings by the composer.
In fact this was no choir, just an amazing vocal quartet from Tenebrae, pure of tone, easy in their phrasing, so alert to each other, and beautifully balanced. More of them later, when I come to the climax of this beautiful presentation.
Lana Trotovsek was the violinist, her eloquent instrument so articulate (and so well-suited here), her security of multiple-stopping, her sense of rhythmic lift and her brooding inwardness perfectly suited to the changing moods of these hypnotic movements.
The pinnacle of this Partita is of course the mighty Chaconne, a vehicle for the virtuosity (and hopefully musical intellect) of the soloist. But there was far more to it here.
Trotovsek shared this virtual sacrament with Tenebrae, who contributed elegiac chorale melodies over the music's figurations, and it worked so effectively. I have never experienced such a fusion here before. Perhaps behind-the-scenes director Nigel Short can claim the credit for this, but whoever was responsible for this gently emotional conclusion to such a quietly remarkable concert deserves untold thanks.
Christopher Morley

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