James Conlon at SFS
Le Nozze di Figaro at SF Opera in 2010

Bach: Favorite Cantatas

* Notes *
The American Bach Soloists performed four Bach cantatas yesterday evening in San Francisco. The concert began with a bit of a rehearsal for the audience, as we were to sing the final chorales for Cantatas 140, 78, and 80.

When the actual soloists started singing Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, they were a bit difficult to hear over the instruments. The tenor, Jeffrey Thomas, who is also the Artistic and Music Director of the ensemble, seemed a bit frail. His recitative "Er kommt, er kommt" was not secure, and one was a bit afraid his voice would crack at any moment during "Zion hört die Wächter singen." On the other hand, soprano Yulia van Doren sounded bell-like and baritone William Sharp quite warm in their first duet, "Wann kömmst du, mein Heil." The violino piccolo was assertive here, but certainly played well.

The sole solo cantata was Ich habe genug, BWV 82, sung by William Sharp. The performance was less than scintillating, but was lovely in any case. John Abberger's oboe playing was fine and clean for the most part, only a few of the trills sounded somewhat smudged.

Jeffrey Thomas was in better voice for in Jesu, der du meine Seele, his aria was good. The duet, "Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten," between the soprano and alto was gorgeous. The alto, Jennifer Lane, has a pretty voice that is not perhaps not striking, but blends well. The low strings and basso continuo all played very beautifully as well here.

There were times during Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott in which the singers seemed almost incidental, because of the prominence of the high strings. However, van Doren had a creamy clarity, despite a few slight gasps.

* Tattling *
The audience sang better than one would expect, even the diction was fairly good. There was no speaking during the performance, nor much electronic noise except some high-pitched hearing aid sounds. There was a little rustling of programs and a few times objects were accidental dropped on the wooden floor.