J. S. Bach: St John Passion

Sunday 11th March 2012 at 7.30pm
St George's Bristol, Great George Street, Bristol BS1 5RR

Bristol Evening Post, Tuesday 13 March 2012
Choir offer a moving and faultless performance

Founded in 1991, this choir chose for its 'coming of age' concert the dramatic St John Passion by J S Bach.

First performed in 1724 at St Nicholas Church, it was constructed of dramatically presented recitatives and choruses, although on a smaller scale the the majestic St Matthew.

The monumental opening chorus was presented with great power and this fine body of singers continued to show their dramatic style throughout, switching from the drama of the crowd scenes to the tenderness of the chorales with conusmmate ease.

Of the five soloists, Jeremy Budd in the role of the Evangelist, has an important part being the narrator of the whole story. He sang with great conviction and superb intonation with the clarity of the words being espeially evident.

Jesus was tastefully portrayed by Alex Ashworth (bass) with alert and straightforward singing, well-shaped and resonant.

He also gave a moving performance of the bass aria My Dear Saviour with a sensitive cello backing from Robyn Austin.

Natalie Clifton-Griffith (soprano) sang her arias with great control and an intimate feeling with Alexandra Gibson (mezzo) sang It Is Finished with great poignancy.

The silence among the large audience after this aria, going on for over 30 seconds, was particularly impressive.

Pilate has an important role in the latter part of the work and Mike Osborn, who was a member of the bass section, gave a very polished performance showing both the sympathy and power of this enigmatic character.

What particularly impressed me was the beautiful intonation of the chorales.

The Bristol Ensemble, with the excellent leader Roger Huckle, once again offered refreshing accompaniment and the whole work was conducted with great enthusiasm by David Ogden.

I found the whole performance faultless.

10/10

John Packwood, Bristol Evening Post