Britten–Pears Baroque Orchestra with Masaaki Suzuki

TONY COOPER Snape Maltings (Aldeburgh Festival)


Snape Maltings (Aldeburgh Festival)

This year's festival has been thoroughly successful with good houses for most concerts. It finished up with a performance of Bach's B Minor Mass in celebration of the centenary of Imogen Holst.

One of the greatest choral works of all time, it was performed by singers from the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme and the Britten-Pears Baroque Orch-estra under the direction of renowned Bach expert, Japanese-born Masaaki Suzuki.

He produced a well-controlled and disciplined performance but, at times, it lacked baroque splendour. His reading of the score was just a bit too plain (and at times too slow) lacking in ornamentation and colour. And with just 18 singers (meticulously drilled by Michael Chance) they had to reach out over the orchestra of 25 pieces to make their mark. The soloists came from the chorus.

The Kyrie was sung in a relaxed and contemplative mood with some nice punctuated phrases with the Laudamus Te admirably sung by soprano Sarah Power. She had an enchanting voice, as did Philip Carmichael, whose bass solo in Et in Spiritum Sanctum was lyrical and flowing.

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Extroverted and chall-enging movements such as the Sanctus and Gloria (opening with a trio of bright and flourishing trumpets and showing off the orchestra to its best) lacked nothing in excitement while the softer passages of Benedictus, Agnus Dei and Dona Nobis Pacem felt like fervent prayers.

The Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme is now such an important part of the Aldeburgh fabric that it seemed most appropriate to give them the final say in this year's landmark festival.

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