Handel - Coronation Anthems & Bach Cantata 51 - Cambridge

St John’s Voices performed a varied programme on Saturday 7th December 2019 in the resplendent College Chapel at St. John’s College in Cambridge. I played first trumpet in the Cambridge Baroque Camerata, led by Jane Gordon (violin) and conducted by Graham Walker, with fellow trumpet players Will Russell (second trumpet) and Gareth Hoddinott (third trumpet) in the section.

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The performance began with Handel’s Zadok the Priest from the Coronation Anthems, before segueing into Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen [BWV 51], which was performed by Russell Gilmour (trumpet) and the fantastic soloist Jess Kinney (soprano). It featured fantastic cello contributions from Henrik Persson in the Aria Höchster, mache deine Güte and brilliant duetting violinists Jane Gordon and Sarah Moffatt in Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren. 

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The performance combined ‘grandeur with gentleness and excitement with repose’ and the Coronation Anthems were ‘juxtaposed with Bach's magnificent and effervescent cantata 51, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen’.
For further contrast, the performance also featured Bach’s funeral motet ‘O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht’ BWV 118[a], favouring the version with oboes and strings, as opposed to the early brass version (with 3 sackbutts, one cornett and two lituui). BWV 118a featured the undulating, sensitive oboe [da caccia] playing of Leo Duarte and Sarah Humphrys.

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The choir shone in the Coronation Anthems and BWV 118, and Jess Kinney made light work of BWV 51. During the performance I realised that this might be my final Cantata 51 (and Coronation Anthems, for that matter) this decade! I reminisced about many of the enjoyable previous occasions I have had the thrill of playing this piece. Most recently with Katharine Dain (soprano) at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, more distantly - a very memorable one with Joanne Lunn (soprano) for Deutschland Radio Kultur in a performance in Kaiserslautern in 2014, and the first occasion that I performed it [professionally], with Louise Alder (soprano) in Moscow, Russia in December 2011. It’s quite comforting to think that all that has happened within only one decade and I look forward to many more performances of BWV 51 (and Bach, generally) in 2020 and beyond.

Russell Gilmour
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