from the Wokingham Times, March 2009
ALEXANDER Chaplin was Wokingham Choral Society's conductor in its
lovely singing of Bach's magnificent St John's Passion. His
emphasis was not only on clarity and precision, but also on the meaning of
words and the music as the passion story unfolds.
The opening chorus was a firm appeal for heavenly inspiration and it was sung with a sweeping smoothness, the subsequent chorales were neat and, in Who Has Hit You?, there was a balanced, legato lament.
The well-rehearsed singing, continued through the whole performance. The opening chorale of part two was a firm,outcry, full of anger, but always precise - as were the interjection passages by the crowd at the trial, leading to the hearty We Have A Law.
The reverent tone of the chorale in Your Imprisonment...",
which followed soon after, was a clear emotional contrast.
Later, in Jesus, You Who Were Dead, their tranquil, lilting tone brought out the joy of salvation that grew out of the earlier sorrow.
The exacting tenor part of the evangelist was sung by John Bowley. His reading was expressive and sympathetic to the events he was describing. His final passage describing the entombment was moving. The baritone, Jonathan Gunthorpe, sang the words of Jesus with impressive dignity.
The performances showed the choral society at its best - great preparation for the Easter season!