"Over the years we have enjoyed a feast of my favourite kind of music, and I wanted to tell you that the Sunday night concert had an impact on my senses without parallel, in particular.  I have felt more alive and conscious of that mysterious universe of sound ever since."
 
"What an amazing musical experience it was!! Hard to imagine hearing anything as good for the rest of my life.!"
 
The final concert of the Tilford Bach Festival is traditionally a grand climactic event that attracts a wide audience of TBS members plus visitors from afield. This year was a complete sell-out long before the festival started.
 
A visit by the renowned English soprano, Dame Emma Kirkby, produced a similar effect to that 7 years ago when she last visited – a full house and massive interest by an audience keen to hear this living legend.

The works performed this year were a mixed programme rather than a single choral oratorio or mass. The opening item was CPE Bach’s Symphony in C Major for Strings, a brisk and highly enjoyable work that reassured us that the London Handel Orchestra was still of the highest quality. The second item was a substantial cantata by the father, JS Bach himself: Ershallet, ihr Lieder. Composed to celebrate Whitsun, it focuses on the completion of the trinity by the coming of the Holy Spirit. The number three therefore recurs in the work in various forms, including the use of triple timing and the use of three trumpets which, with the timpani, forms one of the three “choirs”; the other two being strings plus bassoons and choir plus continuo.
 
The cantata was a superb performance. The singers for the concert were Emma Kirkby (soprano), Elizabeth Cragg (soprano), Robin Blaze (alto), Nicholas Mulroy (tenor) and Matthew Brook (bass). The prominent use of trumpets in this piece was electrifying, something repeated in the final piece.
 
The final item of the concert, which comprised the entire second half, was JS Bach’s Missa in B Minor BWV 232 Kyrie & Gloria. This is effectively the first version of the mass that is now known as the Mass in B Minor, a major work of much greater length that Bach completed in the last 3 years of his life, but never heard performed. That expanded work is nowadays performed on a grand scale with large choirs and orchestras, though this was not the way dictated by Bach in his scores and this performance was therefore probably more authentic.
 
The assembled musicians, under Adrian Butterfield, produced a stunning sound wonderfully enhanced by the acoustics of the small church. The soloists, who also sang the choruses, were impeccable. The contrasting effects during the work from solos and duets to full choruses with orchestra delighted the packed building. The final chorus Cum Sancto with a resounding Amen had some people in tears.
The society is hoping to produce JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion next year. People are invited to make this possible by offering to pledge sponsorship of the event.
Ian Sargeant
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Adrian Butterfield
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"I would like to wish you a very warm welcome to the Tilford Bach Society.
 
We organise high quality professional chamber music concerts in Farnham from September to April with a wide repertoire, and a Festival mostly of Bach's music in late May using period instruments.
 
We very much hope that if you are not already a member that you will come and join us and bring your friends too.
 
We look forward to seeing you!"
 
Adrian Butterfield
 
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Saturday’s concert followed a fascinating illustrated talk on Bach’s life by the distinguished flautist, Rachel Brown.  The concert, entitled ‘In his Father’s footsteps’, sampled the legacy that J. S. Bach passed on to his son Carl Philipp Emanuel in works for flute, soprano, violin and continuo.

The opening piece demonstrated the versatility of baroque music, having been adapted by Rachel Brown for the ensemble from a J. S. Bach Organ Trio.  The combination of baroque flute and portative organ in the plaintive, plangent second movement was exquisite, and was followed by a similarly perfect blend of flute and Elizabeth Cragg’s soprano voice in an aria from the St John Passion.  Cellist Katherine Sharman is a highly popular regular visitor to Tilford, and her contributions to the Flute Sonata in E minor and an aria from Cantata 115 were masterly.  Kathy explained her use of the seldom-heard ‘cello piccolo’ in the latter piece, a melody of heartrending beauty.

The second half of the concert was devoted to C.P.E Bach and included vocal works and a beautiful trio sonata, but the surprise highlight was a jubilant, powerful evocation of the resurrection of Christ from the little-known St Luke’s Passion, performed by soprano Elizabeth Cragg and the full ensemble.  This was enjoyed equally by musicians and audience, organist Alistair Ross almost dancing for joy at the organ.
Rosemary Wisbey

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