Almost a year ago I posted a mournful note to say that the excellent Bach Vespers series in St Mary at Hill was coming to an end, owing to the imminent departure of director Martin Knizia.
As we know, a lot can happen in a year.* Following Knizia’s return to Germany, the singers and players of the Vespers series decided to keep the series going and so, 12 months on, the City Bach Collective go from strength to strength, continuing to provide excellent, pared-down and conductorless performances of Bach cantatas as part of a Lutheran vespers service.
What this means is that you get not only an appropriate cantata for the Sunday but also related chorale preludes, plus motets and other music by Bach’s contemporaries and predecessors.
The services are free (donations welcome) and are a fantastic opportunity to hear Bach’s sacred music in a context that he would have recognised.
The final Vespers before their summer break is this Sunday:
BWV 105 is a wonderful piece, not least because of the extraordinary closing chorale in which the agitated, restless figures of the accompanying instruments gradually become slower and calmer in line with the chorale text; it’s one of my favourite movements in all of Bach’s music.
I really do recommend going along, to hear some excellent singing and playing – as an added bonus, Martin Knizia is visiting as guest organist – and to support these marvellous musicians in their dedication to continuing this fine tradition.
*To be fair, a lot seems to happen on an hourly basis at the moment.