March 1, 2006


Baroque lends human quality to 'Passion' (WYNNE DELACOMA, 3/01/06, Chicago Sun-Times)

Between its own 35th anniversary season and celebrations for Mozart's 250th birthday, Music of the Baroque has been more preoccupied than usual this season with Salzburg's favorite son. The group's season opened in September with gripping performances of the Requiem; concerts in April and May will feature Mozart's C Minor Mass and the final symphonies, respectively.

On Sunday night, however, in Evanston's First United Methodist Church, the ensemble turned its spotlight to that other Baroque-era titan, J.S. Bach. Nicholas Kraemer, the group's principal guest conductor, led the first of three performances of Bach's "The Passion According to St. John,'' the composer's most tightly constructed retelling of the Passion story.

Deploying a set of fine soloists and Music of the Baroque's smallish choir and orchestra like an efficient general, Kraemer gave us an intensely human musical journey. Even in Bach's most meditative, reverent chorales, the ensemble's 25-plus chorus, beautifully prepared by director Edward Zelnis, sounded less like angels basking in God's glory than believers pondering the world-changing implications of Christ's death.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 1, 2006 12:00 AM
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