Bach Concert Series presents earnest performance of B Minor Mass
Bach's B Minor Mass stands as an awesome testament to the composer's genius and his faith.
In purely musical terms, it serves as a summation of the contrapuntal art. For those with spiritual leanings, it serves as keen reminder of humankind's search for truths and solace. As much as this Mass speaks to specific creeds, it is also universal in its reach, its embrace.
I stepped out of my long spring vacation Sunday afternoon (as I have done, and will continue to do, for select events) to catch a presentation of the Mass by the Bach Concert Series at the Inner Harbor's Christ Church, an inviting setting for such music.
There was a good turnout (most of the series is free, but this one had an admission charge). Not that it's important, but I must say ...
Conductor T. Herbert Dimmock favored tempos on the propulsive side, much in line with contemporary thinking about baroque practice. I would not have minded more of an individualistic approach; the performance took on a generic quality.
The chorus made a valiant effort. Intonation and articulation were not entirely reliable; the men's voices lacked heft. Still, expressive feeling was there in abundance. On the solo front, countertenor Biraj Barkakaty was a disappointment; his voice lacked subtlety and warmth. The others -- soprano Karen Myers, tenor David Kellett, bass Ben Bloomfield -- proved generally effective.
In many ways, the orchestra was the concert's star. Even allowing for the occasional slip in pitch or smudge in phrasing, the playing had considerable stylistic flair.Whatever the shortcomings, the performance still communicated strongly the lasting power of this monumental Mass.