Reviews: Bach: Mass in B minor

Great Hall, University of Reading

Wokingham Choral Society gave a stunning performance of Bach’s monumental Mass in B minor in the Great Hall of Reading University on Saturday, 16 November, 2013. As its conductor, Alexander Chaplin explained in his pre-concert talk, the work, written at the end of Bach’s life, was the embodiment of his musical genius.

He wove his unfailing creative powers, as in the opening Kyrie and poignant Et incarnatus est, with reworking of sublime music from earlier in his life, particularly taken from his repertoire of Cantatas.

There is so much to cherish in the Mass and in this performance that trying to single out individual moments for praise would be invidious.

The nobility and rich textures of the chorus writing, tempered by passages of subtle delicacy were memorably captured by the choir.

Bach contrasted this grandeur with solo writing in which intimate conversations were held between voice and different early instruments from the amazingly accomplished Charivari Agréable.

The rapt attention of the audience and its exuberant applause spoke volumes, but the hero of the evening was undoubtedly Alexander Chaplin whose masterful directions ensured a deeply satisfying evening.