by Sarah N. Eichvalds*
November 1, 2009, Raleigh, NC: The
Raleigh Moravian Church once again hosted the North Carolina Bach
this time for a concert marking the
thirtieth anniversary of the promotion
of Baroque music with this concert series.
The NCBF began with a large-scale production
of the St. John Passion by the NC Master Chorale (then called
the Raleigh Oratorio Society) and, if
this November’s program was any
indication, a spectacular job has been done keeping this festival alive.
The program featured a small string ensemble, two harpsichords, and
one soprano, Florence Peacock. The program opened with "Gottes
Engel weichen nie" from the Cantata No. 140 (Man
singet mit Freuden vom Sieg) by — wouldn’t
you guess it? — J.S. Bach. The small
string ensemble (John
Ariadna Illika, violins, Joey O’Donnell,
viola, Brian Howard, violoncello, and
Robbie Link, bass) and Beverly Biggs, harpsichord, accompanied
Peacock, who also helped
make the program possible; she is
not only an avid supporter of music and the arts but also an incredibly
and artistic singer. Once the performers
and audience alike became accustomed to the large and somewhat swallowing
space of the church, no one could
deny the technical skill and artistic talent emanating from the singer
and the accompanying instrumentalists.
Peacock came in perfectly with her sweeping soprano voice. From the
note, it was obvious that we were
in the presence of professionals and that the
would be a spectacular tribute to Bach.
The next piece was the Sonata No.
4 in C Minor, S.1019, for
violin and harpsichord, by
Bach. The violin and harpsichord intertwined and supported each
other in a dazzling show. One of the movements
was almost entirely a harpsichord solo, showing off Elaine Funaro’s
nimble finger work. Next was "Quia
respexit" from the
S.243, once again featuring
Peacock and the string ensemble,
and after a short intermission, she continued
with the florid aria "Höchster,
mache deine Güte" from Jauchzet
Gott in Allen Landen!,
S.51, one of the best-known cantatas. No one could turn eyes
or ears away, so truly engaging was
as she sang this music from memory, freeing herself
from the printed page.
Immediately following was the Concerto in C minor for two harpsichords,
S.1060, featuring soloists Beverly Biggs
and Elaine Funaro and strings. (The
work also exists in a version for violin and oboe.) The
melody spun elegantly between the ensemble
and the harpsichords and between the harpsichords
themselves — an impressive
feat that displayed just how strong the soloists
and ensemble were.
The program closed with "Schlafe, mein Liebster" (from Laßt
sorgen, laßt uns wachen,
S.213 — not to be confused with the aria of the same title from
the Christmas Oratorio, S.248). This beautiful
and sensual number was enjoyed by all.
The audience, which was clearly full
of confirmed Bach lovers, greatly
enjoyed the anniversary program, as did
*We are pleased to welcome Meredith student Sarah N. Eichvalds to
the pages of CVNC. With this review, she joins us as one of
our 2009-10 interns.