Every feeling conceivable could be detected here. The Three Cathedral Choirs joined forces with the Musical and Amicable Society and some pretty remarkable soloists, who were always able to act as well as sing their parts.
Both the nearly one hour-long Buxtehude Membra Jesu Nostri and the shorter Bach Magnificat in D, BWV 243 involved a chorus that, despite being made up of all ages, was remarkably well-disciplined in polyphonic and homophonic passages.
It was during the Membra Jesu Nostri that I thought sopranos Angela Hicks and Penelope Appleyard portrayed the feelings of hope and fear that were embedded in the sung text. Mezzo Sarah Denbee (who smiled gleefully throughout as if delighted to be on stage) portrayed the moments of confusion and love in the text. Whenever it was tenor Greg Tassell's turn in the Buxtehude, he conveyed suitable feelings of hope and very convincing was bass Alex Ashworth's 'begging', again something that the text surely demands of the singers.
The Buxtehude also arguably had the greater sense of unity between soloists and instrumental ensemble, and conductor Geraint Bowen was very able to achieve this with apparent ease.
My perception was that other concerts were highly commendable as well - one with Armstrong Gibbs' Choral Symphony 'Odysseus' and another with Britten's St Nicholas - but it was with very good reason that there were not a huge number of empty seats for Thursday night's Buxtehude and Bach concert at this year's Worcester Three Choirs Festival.
Coronavirus might have caused a year's delay for the festival but Bach and Buxtehude, brought to life with performers of this calibre are perhaps why audiences are, after the delay, still drawn in.
Copyright © 26 August 2021