Review of a concert in the Cambridge Bachfest 2016 in St Columba’s United Reformed Church on Saturday 26th March 2016

Ian de Massini Aug 15 emailIan de Massini and the Cambridge Voices are well known to Ely Cathedral for when they come their concert is quickly a sell-out and it is easy to see why. There is no doubt that Ian is a musical genius and it was he who inspired the Cambridge Bachfest last weekend.

The concert on Saturday featured Ian and the Cambridge Voices and with their customary exquisite style they performed a work they had premièred in Ely Cathedral last year: Ian’s arrangement for voices of the slow movement from Bach’s ‘Double Violin Concerto’. The words chosen to be sung to this usually instrumental work were from John Milton’s paraphrase of Psalm 55: ‘Oh Lord, had I the wings of a dove’. They were indeed most fitting for the familiar musical lines and the amazing skill of composer, arranger and singers left the audience in awe.

This work was an excellent example to represent the whole concert. Each member of the vocal ensemble was proficient as a soloist and together they formed a formidable group. Their tone, projection, expressive intuition and empathy for the needs of the works they sang made this a rare event. The works often astutely and sensitively arranged by Ian included motets and chorales by Bach and songs by Schemelli. Interspersed between the vocal numbers were short delights played on a prized century old piano by Ian including a two-part invention, preludes and number seven of  ‘The Goldberg Variations’. Ian’s informed enthusiasm brought the whole concert alive for not only did he perform with real musical spirit and awareness and gave us a fascinating commentary, he set himself astounding challenges, filling in a part that was missing after the singer had had to retire through ill health and playing his interpretation of the great Chaconne in D minor using his right hand only.  Amazing!

This was indeed a highly uplifting and inspired concert and if you ever notice that Ian is presenting an event in the future you are advised to book your tickets early for we are very fortunate to have such a talented genius and his exquisite choir in our midst.

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