DESPITE what it says on the tin, the contents of Edinburgh Bach Choir’s spring concert only had one work by the man himself – and they didn’t sing it.
Edinburgh Bach Choir - St Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh
Instead, Malcolm Goodare – a pupil at the City of Edinburgh Music School – took to the stage to perform Bach’s Cello Suite No 2, and very nearly stole the show. When emotional maturity arrives, to meet the technical dexterity already firmly in place, Goodare will be a genuine force to be reckoned with.
Elsewhere in the programme, the choir took us from the 16th century to the present day, becoming vocally stronger and full-bodied – and hence looking more confident – as the night progressed. In particular, the Agnus Dei from Baber’s Adagio for Strings, delivered a vocal crescendo that provoked a prickle of goose bumps, and a desire to close your eyes and lose yourself in the glorious sound.
But for me, the undisputed highlight was the concert’s main focus – a brand new commission to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Neil Mantle’s leadership. Created by Liverpool-born, Oslo-based composer Andrew Smith, An die Musik was a fascinating mix of old and new.
At one point Smith had the tenors chattering in the background, as the main swell came up to meet them, then let the whole sound wash over us with a pastoral elegance.
When it finished, I just wanted to hear it all over again – which, wisely, Mantle chose to do as an encore, allowing the choir to deliver it even more passionately second time round.