Bach Players: Octagon Chapel, Norwich

Medium coffee and cabbage

Frank Cliff wrote about our Octagon Chapel concert, 6 October 2016, for the Eastern Daily Press

The recital by The Bach Players, always a high point in Norwich musical life, was unusual in that one would not normally expect the dominant factor of a programme of music by J.S. Bach to be high good humour, but such it was in performances of two of his secular cantatas, the Coffee Cantata and the Peasant Cantata.

First, however, came 14 canons on the first eight notes of the bass part of the Goldberg Variations, arranged with great ingenuity by the ensemble’s harpsichordist, Silas Wollston: a joyous piece, its climax sounding as near to a baroque jam session as one could imagine, and immaculately performed by the small forces of the ensemble, string quartet and continuo, led from the violin by their founder, Nicolette Moonen.

The soprano, Rachel Elliot, and bass Matthew Brook were the superb soloists in the Peasant Cantata. No props, but what amounted to a semi-staged performance: lots, but not too much, movement; nothing ever static; very funny; and every word of the German text crystal clear.

In between came a fine performance of the fifth Brandenburg, the small forces perfectly balanced, with beautiful playing from Marion Moonen on baroque flute.

Eastern Daily Press, 11 October 2016

(Frank Cliff told us that his paragraph on the Coffee Cantata was cut to let the review fit)