In June 2022, John Eliot Gardiner led the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists on a tour of Europe, performing the music of Bach and two of his German forebears: Schütz and Schein in a programme of music of consolation. The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists travelled to Luxembourg Philharmonie, Palau de la Música - Barcelona, Nikolaikirche, Bachfest - Leipzig, St Martini - Braunschweig, Konzerthaus - Dortmund, and Odeon of Herodes Atticus - Athens before returning for a fantastic concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
Schütz Freue dich des Weibes deiner Jugend, SWV 453
Schütz Ist nicht Ephraim mein teurer Sohn, SWV 40
Schein Da Jakob vollendet hatte
Schütz Auf dem Gebirge hat man ein Geschrei gehöret, SWV 396
Schütz Musikalische Exequien, SWV 279-281
Bach Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (Actus tragicus), BWV 106
Bach O Jesu Christ meins Lebens Licht, BWV 118
The works in this programme explored these great composers’ attempts to comfort the bereaved through their music. Written when he was only 22 years old, Bach’s Actus tragicus, BWV 106 can be interpreted as a cathartic musical outpouring of his own unresolved grief, after he was orphaned 12 years before.
The Monteverdi Choir was accompanied by the rich sound of early brass instruments in rarely heard short works by Schütz and Schein, and two other consolatory pieces: Bach’s ‘O Jesu Christ mein’s Lebens Licht’, BWV 118; and Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien, an exquisitely poetic meditation written for Prince Heinrich of Reuss.
A selection of review quotes from the tour:
“Not only does Gardiner demonstrate at each measure a perfect understanding of the springs of baroque rhetoric, but he is also capable of endowing it with the theatricality that each composer pursues with it.”
★★★★ ABC Catalonia
“Schütz: Musicalische Exequien took place with an organic, inspiring, emotionally intense reference to eternity, in which not only the impressive tenor Jonathan Hanley made a real appearance in the solos to the interposed verses of Mercy by the choirs of the Reuss funeral mass, but also with Cronin, Mobley, Ashworth, Emily Owen, Sam Cobb, Alison Ponsford-Hill, Iris Korfker, Graham Neal, Gareth Treseder, Chris Webb and Sam Evans, numerous choir members demonstrated their skills in the range of spiritual and theologically pious mediation.”
★★★★★ Jens Klier - Bachtrack
“As for the choirs and the vocal soloists, the perfection of the pitch, the purity of the emission, the very beauty of the voice, all of this passed with seeming happiness. It was a glorious concert, from the glory of the German baroque.”
Jose Luis Vidal - Scherzo
“I have only very rarely experienced such a precise, fine and homogeneous choral singing in this repertoire.”
Alain Steffen - Tageblatt Lëtzebuerg
A selection of responses to the performances on our social media channels:
“I can’t remember a performance where people were consistently wiping tears from their eyes like they did tonight at the @mco_london concert at @stmartins_music. The entire performance was a blessing and a benediction.” D Vance
“Beautiful concert from @mco_london this evening “music of consolation” precisely what I needed.” L Brown
“Bravo! Thank you @aefestivalgr and congratulations to Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists Monteverdi Choir @mco_london for an exquisite evening of beautiful music #athens” M Lodge
“Absolutely breath-taking evening at @Konzerthaus_DO with the magnificent @mco_london conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. What a most wonderful and angelic choir sound!!! Thank you so much to @Klangvokalist for inviting them to #Dortmund” @_aboil