To mount a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion is a daunting task in any circumstances: two choirs, two orchestras, a children’s choir, six soloists and numerous minor parts sung by individual members of the choirs.
Robert Hammersley and the Ardingly Choral Society are to be congratulated on getting this all together for a fine performance last Sunday in Ardingly College Chapel. They were ably supported by players from the Mid Sussex Sinfonia.
Neil Jenkins as the Evangelist carried the performance along with great surety, every word clearly audible, beautifully expressed in a manner appropriate to the events being described.
The part of Jesus was sung by Johnny Herford with a steady and gentle authority. The other four soloists sang their reflective arias with rich tone and fine musicality.
The choirs, so well accompanied by the orchestras, excelled both in the dramatic crowd scenes and in the stillness of the chorales which provide a breathing space and the opportunity for quiet reflection.
The complexities of preparing and performing this incredible work pale into insignificance when compared to the story which it tells – from the Last Supper, Jesus’ arrest, interrogation, trial and crucifixion by Joseph of Arimathea.
The story being told, Bach’s inspirational music and the quality of the performance combined to make a most memorable evening, one not to be forgotten for a very long time.
Review by: James King, Mid Sussex Times