Review: Bach’s B minor Mass by The Consort of Twelve with the Portsmouth Baroque Choir

If you perform music from the Baroque period, your Mount Everest is Bach’s B minor mass. The Portsmouth Baroque Choir (PBC) decided to attempt to scale its lofty heights and a large audience came to St Paul’s, Chichester to see whether they would achieve their quest. And did they? And how!

This was a momentous achievement, ably directed by their conductor, Malcolm Keeler. Bach’s greatest choral work is not for the unwary, so Mr. Keeler’s clear beat will have been appreciated by choir and orchestra alike.

Just occasionally, the snow-flurries of Bach’s complex vocal lines became a little indistinct but this didn’t mar the occasion.

PBC is a fine choir all-round. In particular, the soprano line’s blend is excellent and its vocal quality is clear.

The Consort of twelve provided an excellent accompaniment, especially the trumpeters, although there were a few moments when the strings dominated the chorus.

The quintet of soloists acquitted themselves well, although some of Bach’s passionate nature was missing from some interpretations towards the end of the work.

Musical directors only get to see the entire cast on the day of the concert when orchestra and soloists meet for the first and only time. But someone had a brilliant idea, realising that working with the orchestra a day early for an extra rehearsal might pay dividends. And did it? And how!

This was a very fine achievement by PBC, with everyone enjoying their Everest ascent. They should all feel very proud of themselves.

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