Reviews

An account of the St John Passion that brought home the true meaning of Easter Bach’s St John Passion has been the subject of intense debate in the US in recent years because of what some perceive as anti-Semitic references within the work.  This has as much to do with the original source material as the libretto.  St John’s Gospel was written at a time when the nascent Christian Church was...
Bach referred to the ‘Kyrie’ and ‘Gloria’ of his Mass in B minor as “an insignificant example of my musical skill” but the work as a whole might be better described as one of the most significant creations of civilization. It is a work which demands the most virtuosic of players and singers, and the most inspired direction, and to hear the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and the Orchestra of...
Classical Year in Review: Passion, high-quality performances in superior efforts "Equally as refreshing, in July the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge appeared in a night of demanding, mainly contemporary music under the Musica Viva umbrella. This ensemble turned Frank Martin's Mass for Unaccompanied Double Choir into a revelation; where you expected awkwardness and effort, the British singers...
Howells still seems a bit of a rarity on disc. How did you first encounter him? I sang his church music from when I was nine at Winchester Cathedral where I was a choirboy for four and a half years. As I sang Tallis and Byrd, I sang Howells, so it's very much a part of my existence, if you like. Was it love at first hearing for you? Yes, yes, it was. When we sang Howells' Collegium Regale in...
Hallelujah! A bright, brilliant ‘Messiah’ at Seattle Symphony   What a difference a conductor makes. The Seattle Symphony’s guest maestro for this year’s “Messiah” performances, Stephen Layton, put his own expert stamp on Handel’s most famous oratorio Friday evening in the first of four performances at Benaroya Hall. Imaginative, lively, and full of drama, this was a “Messiah” worth the audience’...
As composers go, Handel is a bit like Bach in that it is absolutely essential for any serious exponent of his music to have views about the performance. Visiting conductor Stephen Layton, of City of London Sinfonia fame, not to mention the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, most definitely fits the bill. Layton’s approach to Handel’s popular masterpiece is full of insight, and the result a...