Review: Bach Collegium Japan returns with chamber music
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Review: Bach Collegium Japan returns with chamber music
An undated photo provided by Joseph Sinnott shows members of Bach Collegium Japan appearing at the 92nd Street Y in New York, joined by the baritone Roderick Williams. Players from the ensemble came to New York to perform works by Bach, Telemann and Johann Gottlieb Janitsch. (Joseph Sinnott via The New York Times)

by Oussama Zahr

NEW YORK, NY.- At the 92nd Street Y, New York, on Sunday, Bach Collegium Japan — led by its founder and music director, Masaaki Suzuki — brought bold, brisk style to chamber works by its eponymous composer and his contemporaries.

A small subset of this ensemble’s period-instrument forces — five strings, oboe, flute and harpsichord — came together in various configurations for a Bach orchestral suite, one of Telemann’s “Paris” quartets and a chamber sonata by Johann Gottlieb Janitsch. Baritone Roderick Williams joined them for cantatas by Bach and Telemann.

It was an afternoon of fitful pleasures. When the players had a clear, distinctive musical character to embody — a blithe movement from the Telemann quartet or the slumber aria from Bach’s cantata — they tackled it with focused collaboration. Individual members of the group had moments of understated eloquence.

At times, though, the ensemble, with Suzuki at the harpsichord, confronted the audience with an undifferentiated wall of sound. They shaped the music broadly, with little of the interplay between loud and soft, dark and light, that gives Baroque music its unique shimmer. (I wonder whether Suzuki misjudged the acoustics of Kaufmann Concert Hall, which, while not especially warm, still carry.)

Suzuki’s approach brought to mind his conducting of Handel’s “Messiah” with the New York Philharmonic in December, when the players conveyed the music’s general shape without filling in the details.

At the Y, the program’s opening, Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor (BWV 1067), came off a bit noisy when it should have been stately. A zippy tempo for the Rondeau made it difficult for the players to lock into the movement’s buoyancy. Ryo Terakado’s overly bright violin didn’t cohere with Emmanuel Balssa’s sensitively shaded cello.

That suite, though, is really a showcase for the flutist, and Liliko Maeda played trippingly — airy and smooth, fleet and seamless. Alternating between legato and staccato, her tone practically bounced off the harpsichord, and she tumbled gracefully through intricate passagework.

Janitsch’s spacious Sonata da Camera in G minor, altogether sweeter and less densely scored than the Bach, made room for Suzuki’s broad phrasing. The strings inflated their long lines, and Masamitsu San’nomiya’s oboe shone. Stephen Goist’s viola cut through like white light in the Largo.

In the Telemann quartet, Balssa explored minute gradations in hushed dynamics, and Terakado, whose blunt leadership as first violin often dulled the luster of the music on the program, brought a sly smile in his playing.

If the childlike pleas of Telemann’s cantata “Der am Ölberg zagende Jesus” struck a modern ear as a strange way to express Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, then Bach’s “Ich habe genug” was the opposite: magnificent and profound. It tells the biblical story of Simeon, who, having held the Christ child, says he can finally die in peace, for the world has nothing left to offer him.

Williams has a lovely baritone that is almost tenorial in the lucidity of its middle and upper registers. I expected him to lean into that quality during the Bach cantata’s first aria, in which the melody is relatively high, but Williams’ Simeon, consumed by the music’s dusky beauty, was already preparing himself for death. It was only in the second aria, which envisions death as the ultimate slumber, that Williams revealed the downy softness of his voice, singing the final repeat of the verse entirely in piano — weightless and unburdened by earthly matters.

The melancholy of Bach’s cantata hides a deeper contentment. At the Y, the players missed it in the first aria, skimming over its gentle undulations. Then, in the second, as they traced the descending musical figures, keenly attuned to one another and to the music’s character, they found it.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Today's News

February 14, 2023

A vehicle for social justice, bound for the Frieze Art Fair

Neanderthal crab roast leftovers are found in a Portuguese cave

Christie's to offer four centuries of gastronomic history through a selection of books

Maarten Baas' first solo exhibition on the U.S. West Coast opens at Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Phillips unveils 'Titans of the 20th Century from the Collection of Marcel Brient'

Exhibition at the Fondation HCB offers a new perspective on the work of Paul Strand

First work by a Native American joins National Gallery of Art's Abstract Expressionist Collection

Lyman Allyn Art Museum adds new items to Tiffany exhibition

Clars Auction announces Important Winter Modern + Contemporary Art Auction

'Reflections and Refractions Helen Pashgian and Kim Taek Sang' opens at Lehmann Maupin

Famous Olivier family art collection to be offered at auction

Holabird's Treasures from the Shelves auction will be held Feb. 18-19

De La Soul's David Jolicoeur, who rapped as Trugoy the Dove, dies at 54

Gustavo Dudamel: A maestro at a crossroads

Reminiscing about clothes that shaped hip-hop

Jürgen Flimm, director of festivals and opera houses, dies at 81

Across Paris, an Invader unleashes his art

Celia Cruz will be first Afro-Latina to appear on the U.S. quarter

Rare £500 note from the Bank of England branch in Leeds will be offered at auction

Latvian National Museum of Art exhibits work by Amanda Ziemele

'Anastasia Bay: The Stumbler's Parade' opens at Venus Over Manhattan

Record-setting 1855-S Three Dollar Gold coin leads Heritage auction above $14.5 million

India Art Fair closes its 2023 edition, concluding its most ambitious showcase to date

Review: Bach Collegium Japan returns with chamber music

Discover the best tablets and laptop deals with Three!

Freshforex traiding tools.

Types of Singapore Online Casino Bonus

What is Online Betting in Trusted Sites

7 Productivity Apps for Growing Business in 2023

The gambling industry in Hungary: PayPal online casinos, regulators and laws

Advantages Of Hurela Lace Frontal Wigs

Key features that you will get with lace front human hair wigs

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful