Outstanding Musical Night in Madrid: William Christie and Les Arts Florissants Perform Bach’s St John Passion

22/03/2019

 J.S. Bach, St John Passion: Les Arts Florissants / William Christie (conductor, harpsichord), Auditorio de Música, Madrid, 21.3.2019. (JMI)

William Christie © R. Martín

Cast:
Evangelist – Reinoud Van Mechelen
Jesus – Alex Rosen
Pilate – Renato Dolcini
Soprano – Rachel Redmon
Mezzo-soprano – Jess Dandy
Tenor – Anthony Gregory

William Christie and Les Arts Florisasnts are marking their fortieth anniversary this year and, in the intervening period, have become a leading group in the world of historically informed performance. Part of their celebration is this European tour of the St John Passion, which is not the best known or most frequently heard Bach oratorio – the preference seems to be for the St Matthew Passion. But it is always a pleasure to attend the St John; although it does not have great arias for the soloists, it does contain some beautiful passages for the chorus.

The concert, organized by Ibermúsica and the CNMD (National Center for Musical Diffusion), was magnificent in musical terms although the vocal result was somewhat irregular. William Christie is one of the major interpreters of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music, and it is always a genuine joy to attend a concert of his – and even more so if he is with Les Arts Florissants. On this occasion, the music was superb: a very well-balanced interpretation and plenty of emotion. The orchestra was first-rate, and little can be said about the Franco-American maestro that is not known to all music lovers. A truly great musical event took place yesterday in Madrid.

From a vocal point of view, there were two outstanding performances. On the one hand, I would single out tenor Reinoud Van Mechelen, who covered the part of the Evangelist. As is known, this role does not have any arias. It is all recitatives, which are numerous and demand a very strong singer. Van Mechelen was excellent from beginning to end.

The other highlight of the evening in vocal terms was the Chorus of Les Arts Florissants, which offered a stellar performance.

The rest of the cast, as far as soloists are concerned, was uneven. Among the best was soprano Rachel Redmon, who has an attractive soprano and sang her two arias with gusto. Good too was the impression left by bass Alex Rosen who sang the part of Jesus. He also has only recitatives to sing, and he executed them with a sonorous and attractive voice.

Mezzo-soprano Jess Dandy was almost inaudible in her aria in the first part but improved in the second, although she falls short in the lower part of the tessitura. Bass-baritone Renato Dolcini was a correct interpreter of Pilatus, although modest in purely vocal terms, as was tenor Anthony Gregory.

José M. Irurzun

For a London review of this concert click here.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder Announces 2019 Art-Song Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 29 April – 11 May 2019 in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall 2019-2020 Season Highlights __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera’s 2019 Performances of Stephen Storace’s Gli sposi malcontenti __________________________________
  • NEW! Nevill Holt Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019 Aldeburgh Festival and Snape Proms in June and August __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR PIETARI INKINEN IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! When Music is Indistinguishable from Drama by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR MAXIM EMELYANYCHEV IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month