Bath Bachfest 2015

“This baroque festival continues to bloom” - Rian Evan, The Guardian, 23.02.2015

We are delighted to report that this year’s Bath Bachfest has been a resounding success, with sell-out concerts and plaudits from concert-goers and critics alike.

Audiences have grown significantly this year and, in addition to enthusiastic local audiences, we know that many people are coming to Bath specifically for the Bachfest, and local restaurants and hotels have reported excellent trade over the weekend.  Bachfest is, of course, all about the music, but we are always happy to support the local economy at the same time!

In her excellent review in The Guardian, Rian Evans paid particular tribute to the quality of the programming of this festival.  Now enjoying its fourth year under the artistic directorship of Amelia Freedman, her policy of keeping J S Bach at the centre of the programme but venturing beyond him to his baroque contemporaries – this year particularly Vivaldi and Handel – seems to have paid dividends.

Starting with an all-Vivaldi programme, in the atmospheric candlelit setting of St Mary’s Bathwick, La Serenissima’s director and lead violin, Adrian Chandler, brought the programme vividly to life with his fascinating and erudite introductions to each piece, which audience members responded too very warmly.  And Mhairi Lawson’s glorious soprano voice was a particular delight.

Next, the Soloists of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment provided a delicious one-hour lunchtime interlude of baroque chamber music with trio sonatas from Handel and Bach, a French-style suite from the latter’s friend Telemann, and then a harpsichord-led suite by the truly French, Rameau.

In the Academy of Ancient Music’s all Bach programme, the soloists Bojan Čičić and Rebecca Livermore were singled out for particular praise, and also the Triple Concert in A minor, BMV 1044, with its virtuosic final movement.  This was a thrilling performance, rewarded by tumultuous applause.

Saturday morning’s full-length 11am coffee concert saw one of the world’s great pianistic interpreters of J S Bach, Angela Hewitt, play his late, unfinished, The Art of Fugue.  An outstanding communicator, Angela Hewitt guided a rapt audience through Bach’s magisterial collection of keyboard fugues on a single theme, demonstrating all the possibilities of the form with sublime clarity in an intensely moving performance.

Then, to Bath Abbey, to close with Handel inItaly.  The popoular pre-concert talk set the scene for Paul McCreesh’s acclaimed Gabrieli Consort & Players, who started with Corelli’s masterly Concerto Grosso, then via an Italian cantata thanking the Virgin Mary for protecting Rome from earthquake, and finally to Handel’s much loved Dixit Dominus.

So, as we celebrate an excellent and very successful 2015 Bachfest, we are delighted to give you the dates for next year’s 3-day, 5-concert festival:

Bath Bachfest 2016 – Thursday 18, Friday 19 and Saturday 20 February. 

We hope you will join us then for our next mid-winter musical treat.

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