Bach - Magnificat - Voces8

It was great to play with Voces8 again after the successful Messiah performance last year.

On Wednesday 20th December 2017 the group performed Bach’s Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme [BWV 140], three carols, and Bach’s Magnificat in D [BWV 243], at Voces8’s home - the (surprisingly reverberant) Gresham Centre. The performance was ably conducted by Voces8's Artistic Director, Barnaby Smith.

The performance began with an abridged version of Bach’s Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme [BWV 140] - a cantata originally written for (the very rare occurrence of) the 27th Sunday after Trinity, which is only possible if Easter takes place before the 27th March. During Bach’s time in Leipzig, this phenomenon only occurred in the year 1731 (for which BWV 140 was composed) and on a second occasion in 1742 (and it is generally supposed that the cantata was re-used).

The opening movement began with Bach’s broad, gestural brushstrokes in the form of ritornelli between the refined oboes (Joel Raymond and Oonagh Lee) and the upper strings. In this abridged performance (omitting recitatives, and duet arias), the chorales in No.4 Zion hört die Wächter singen and the final choral, Gloria sei dir gesungen, were beautifully performed and the short version of the cantata provided the perfect introduction to the concert.

In-between the two Bach pieces, there were three carols: Away in a Manger, Silent Night and In Dulci Jubilo. Voces8 sang Tom Elwin’s 2005 arrangement of Silent Night, which showcased Voces8’s a cappella expertise and distinctively pure sound.
Away in a Manger and In Dulci Jubilo had been specially arranged by Jonathan Pacey (Bass in Voces8) to have an accompaniment from the baroque orchestra. In Dulci Jubilo finished with suitably jubilant trumpets (with Russell Gilmour, Will Russell and Darren Moore) playing in the extreme high register to finish. Jonathan's arrangements were excellent.

An equally joyous rendition of Bach's Magnificat finished the performance, with excellent vocal contributions from all involved.

The musicians and audience members raised a glass together during an excellent post-concert reception. There was excitement to see that the singer, arranger, composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier was present.