The Choir and Orchestra of St James’ King Street presents Songs of the Divine, the exquisite sacred music of J S Bach and Handel in their inaugural concert for 2014.
Under the direction of Warren Trevelyan-Jones, the ensemble will perform J S Bach’s Mass in A BWV 234, the motet Der Gerechte kommt um, attributed to Bach, and Handel’s Dixit Dominus. The Orchestra of St James’ performing on fine period instruments will be led by Alice Evans.
Bach’s Mass in A (1738) is one of four short Lutheran masses. His superlative writing for both chamber and choral forces draws out the utmost meaning from the words, beautifully interweaving solo voice sections. Der Gerechte kommt um is a motet reworked from a chorale by Bach’s distinguished predecessor at Leipzig, Johann Kuhnau. Based on a passage from Isaiah, the motet’s brooding intensity is tangible throughout, with heartrending orchestral sequences and lengthy vocal lines. Incredibly expressive, as is typical with Bach the overall effect is one of consolation.
Handel’s setting of Psalm 110, Dixit Dominus (1707) is a tour de force from start to finish. Handel’s exciting word painting and treatment of string rhythms shows real flair, and the emotional intensity is palpable – amazing for a then twenty-two-year-old. The piece’s contrasting sections for chorus and solo voices amply demonstrate Handel’s grasp of the dramatic possibilities of biblical texts as well as his command of baroque orchestration within an Italianate sensibility.