The huge audience that attended the concert by the Bach Akademie Australia in the St Francis of Assisi Church Paddington are great supporters of the music of Bach and also enthusiastic for the success of this newly formed specialist group.
Founded by violinist Madeleine Easton in 2017, all the instrumentalists are well versed in period instrument practice and there were many moments to savour in a concert that – apart from Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 – avoided the most famous Bach works.
The venue, with its cavernous roof and side chapels, is very beautiful but was never designed for concert acoustics. This created a problem for the audience as there was, as a result, an unfortunate lack of power and tonal presence.
The Cantata BWV 106 Actus Tragicus had two members of the Sydney-based Song Company: soprano Susannah Lawergren and bass Andrew O’Connor, who were joined by the alto, Tobias Cole and tenor, Richard Butler as the vocal soloists. All fine and well-disciplined singers but even with only a very small number of instrumentalists to sing ‘over’ the venue made it difficult for the audience to fully appreciate the quality of the performances. Here, and in Cantata BWV 175 Er rufet in seinen Schafen mit Namen, there was fine playing by the string continuo group of Daniel Yeadon, Anton Baba and Jacqueline Dossor and keyboardist, Neal Peres da Costa.
Yeadon and da Costa were suitably introspective and at turns playful and thrilling in the G minor Sonata for da gamba BWV 1029.
Madeleine Easton led from the violin in 4 movements of The Art of the Fugue BWV 1080 and in the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. Wonderful musicianship from all was on display in these works. Trumpeter Richard Fomison was elegant, and blended well with Mikaela Oberg, recorder and oboist Aaron Reichelt.
Some may think that there is already enough Bach and baroque music in general performed in our big cities, but it does not matter for the Bach Akademie Australia, as there is a sizable fan base to support them and to listen attentively.