Saturday, December 15, 2012

Philharmonia Baroque: A Bach Christmas

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, 12.14.2012 Audience at Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra at Herbst Theatre.Friday night I heard Philharmonia Baroque's Christmas-themed, all-Bach program. Guest conductor Masaaki Suzuki has a great head of white hair. He gestures vigorously & cues all the entrances. He led with consistently fast tempos, though the speediness was somehow never pulse-quickening. The famous Air of the Orchestral Suite No. 3 felt arid. The trumpets often struggled to keep up with the rapid tempos.

The chorus of 23 for the Cantata BWV 63 & the Magnificat sounded happy & clear. Alto Fabiana González makes a clean, solid sound. Soprano Sherezade Panthaki has a pure, pretty voice that made me think of a bird in flight.  Bass-baritone Dashon Burton has a deep, open sound, & there is a nice relaxed quality to his singing. Tenor Dann Coakwell's voice is clean & unstrained. He looked joyful & emotionally involved while performing. Soprano Claire Kelm moved back & forth between the chorus & the front of the stage to sing the soprano II part in the Magnificat. Oboist Marc Schachman Gonzalo Ruiz played clean & mellow obbligato solos in the cantata & Magnficat.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, 12.14.2012 Intermission at Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra concert at Herbst Theatre.This concert presented the earlier E-flat version of the Magnificat, which seemed pretty similar to the standard version in D, except for a couple of interpolated choruses in German. Ms. Panthaki sounded mellifluous in the Quia Respexit. The voices of her & Mr. Burton, while both attractive, did not really blend in their duets. Organist Hanneke van Proosdij did double duty playing one of the recorder obbligatos in Esurientes implevit bonis, while harpsichordist Charles Sherman took over the organ. The male choristers did a nice job making their 16th notes in Fecit potentiam sound distinct & separated.

The concert was well attended & the audience quiet & polite. They applauded especially for the chorus & soloists. A phone rang from somewhere just before the Suscepit of the Magnificat.

§ A Bach Christmas
Philharmonica Baroque
Masaaki Suzuki, conductor

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Claire Kelm, soprano
Fabiana González, alto
Dann Coakwell, tenor
Dashon Burton, bass-baritone

Philharmonia Chorale, Bruce Lamott, director

J.S. BACH Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068
J.S. BACH Cantata No. 63 Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63
J.S. BACH Magnificat in E-flat major, BWV 243a

Fri, Dec 14, 2012, 8:00 pm
The Herbst Theatre,
San Francisco


Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra said...

We are happy you enjoyed the performance. Please note that the oboist was Gonzalo Ruiz.

Axel Feldheim said...

Noted. Thank you for the correction!