Sunday, 3 April 2016

Bach, Byrd and Beyond (Britten Sinfonia/Seven Last Words)

Byrd, Bach, Shostakovich, and Macmillan (Britten Sinfonia cond. Eamonn Dougan)
A mixed programme by the Britten Sinfonia and its chorus conducted by Eamonn Dougan culminated in Seven Last Words from the Cross on 20th March. It was a hardy bunch that seemed willing to be trapped inside on a spring afternoon – perhaps one quarter of seats were full. 
The Byrd set the tone quickly, as did the Bach. But it was the Shostakovich which was really impressive in my book. For this, first violin X, took charge as Eamonn Dougan retired from the stage, and the orchestra conducted itself (almost). For the second time in March, I was impressed by Shostakovich's chamber music, suggesting it would be time well spent to explore this more.

After an interval, Macmillan. The first half of it was very moving, especially the III 'word' which encouraged us to consider the wood of the cross. I think the emotion in it had peaked for me by then, and however powerful the second half was, it didn't surpass this; accordingly its intensity was undermined.

Was it all the more poignant for the destruction outside?
The Barbarians are arrived: bye bye brutalist library
Britten Sinfonia
Britten Sinfonia chorus
Eamonn Dougan conductor
Byrd: Miserere mei
Bach: Cantata O Jesu Christ,mein’s Lebens Licht BWV 118
Shostakovich arr. Barshai: Chamber Symphony Op 110a
James MacMillan: Seven Last Words From the Cross

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