Bath Bachfest 2014

We are delighted to report that this year’s, third, Bath Bachfest proved to be a great success.  Word of this fledgling annual festival is spreading and our audiences are continuing to grow – despite the best efforts of the incessant rain.

Our audience research this year shows that many people are visiting Bath specifically for the Bachfest, and enjoying the many pleasures that the City has to offer around the concerts.

Happily, all five concerts exceeded our expectations and thrilled audiences – from the sublime solo Sonatas and Partitas of violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff, to the glorious Mass in B minor with the New London Consort in Bath Abbey.

There has been considerable critical acclaim, too.  From the early entreaties of The Sunday Times and BBC Music Magazine – which declared the Bachfest to be an ‘Unmissable Event’ – to a wonderful five star review in the Guardian for the Academy of Ancient Music with Richard Tognetti.

The 2014 Bath Bachfest opened with The Cardinall’s Musick directed by Andrew Carwood, in the beautiful candlelit setting of St Mary’s Church Bathwick.  Peter Lloyd Williams, writing for the Bath Chronicle, summed it up thus:  ‘Superlative singing, enlivened by Andrew Carwood’s amusing yet insightful comments: and accompanied with discreet excellence on the chamber organ by Robert Qinney’.

Next, a one-hour lunchtime concert with the outstanding British cellist Colin Carr.  His performance last year was such a success that the festival’s artistic director, Amelia Freedman, invited him to make a return visit to play more of the unaccompanied solo Bach Suites – which received a rapturous response from the captivated audience.

Friday evening’s performance by the Academy of Ancient Music with guest conductor and violinist Richard Tognetti – whose day job is Leader of the outstanding Australian Chamber Orchestra – was always set to be a special concert, with tickets in hot demand and completely sold out on the night.

In awarding it the maximum five stars in her Guardian review, Rian Evans commented that ‘Richard Tognetti’s instinct for the natural ebb and flow of works written for the Dresden Court orchestra made for an outstanding performance’.  She praised the vibrantly physical dynamic of his playing and the ‘extraordinary tonal colour of Tognetti’s Guarderi del Gesù  [violin], which he played with a conventional bow, setting him apart from the more subdued sound of those around him with their shorter, more curved, baroque-style bows.  But the Australian’s instinct for the music’s natural ebb an flow found him dropping right back into the texture and drawing beautifully projected solos from his fellow musicians’.

Then, what better way to pass a wintery Saturday morning than at a full-length 11am coffee concert featuring one of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary violinists?   Following his exquisite performance of Bach’s Solo Sonatas and Partitas, the long, awed, silence at the close of Christian Tetzlaff’s performance said it all.

Finally, as Bach’s work was crowned by his mighty setting of the Latin Mass, so this festival in the great composer’s honour ended with his B minor Mass.  A packed Bath Abbey assembled for this performance by the New London Consort, conducted by David Roblou.  With just eleven singers and a small chamber orchestra the scale was close to that which Bach would himself have envisaged.  From the power of the opening Kyrie to the concluding, deeply moving, Dona Nobis Pacem this was a glorious performance, in all senses of the word.  As Peter Lloyd Williams, reviewing for the Bath Chronicle, summed up: ‘[It] was a performance of uncommon distinction’.

So, the 2014 Bath Bachfest ended on a very positive note.  And we are pleased to confirm that there will be another 5-concert, 3 day Bath Bachfest in 2015 – running from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 February inclusive.  We hope you will join us then.