REVIEW: B MINOR MASS by J S BACH, HANOVER BAND & CHORUS, ST NICHOLAS CHURCH ARUNDEL

Bach’s monumental masterpiece, his Mass in B minor, was indeed a rare treat given by the highly acclaimed Hanover Band and Chorus at St Nicholas Church in Arundel last weekend.

In spite of being such a large-scale work, and having been frequently performed by forces to match, this was a refreshingly intimate performance in which every nuance could be clearly heard and defined.

Founded by Caroline Brown in 1980, the Hanover Band prides itself on its artistic integrity, enabling each work to be played according to its composer’s intentions, both in the use of period instruments whenever possible, and the comparatively small number of professional instrumentalists and singers.

The Band is entering its 4th season at Arundel and is planning to extend its range of performances additionally to other venues. This was the first time I had heard its Chorus, just 20 singers including five soloists – and what quality! From the hushed intensity of alto William Towers together with oboist Joel Raymond in Qui Sedes to the breathtakingly ecstatic tours de force of Cum Sancto Spiritu, Et Resurrexit and Pleni sunt Coeli, this was a musical experience to be savoured.

Anyone who considers Bach’s music to be dry, academic or merely mathematical, would be pleasantly surprised at the wide range of drama and emotion in his works. The word Fugue strikes dread into many a performer or listener, but in its literal meaning of Flight, that is exactly what happens!

The large audience vociferously demonstrated its admiration for soloists Miriam Allan, Emma Tring (sopranos), William Towers (alto), Matthew Howard (tenor, standing in for fellow member Simon Wall) and Jonathan Brown (bass), the whole choir and band, all energetically and sensitively co-ordinated by their gifted young conductor Benjamin Bayl

The next two Hanover Band concerts at the same venue are Handel’s Messiah on December 12 and Bach’s St John Passion on Good Friday April 3 2015

Marilyn Dennis