“The evening’s final moments belonged to Martinson alone. The stage lights were tinted blue for the lonely Passacaglia, its descending four-note phrase providing both a foundation for harmonies and a launching pad for virtuosic runs. Time stretched out with each repeat. It seemed an eternity since we had embarked on this journey together, yet I sensed that if it continued, we all would have followed her anywhere.”
For the Boston Globe. March 13, 2017.
The historically informed performance movement aims to let today’s audiences experience music as it would have been performed when it was conceived. However, Bach’s Mass in B Minor (completed in 1749) was not performed in full until 1859, so to perform it on Baroque period instruments, as Boston Baroque did Friday night at Jordan Hall, is to perpetuate a fascinating paradox of sorts. The fact that this incongruity has become the norm only demonstrates the timelessness of the Mass, a two-hour spiritual journey encompassing some of the composer’s finest writing. The venerated Bach scholar and conductor John Eliot Gardiner writes of a solid period-instrument performance, “[It] becomes a communal rite, one built on complicity and trust.”
Friday’s performance deserved that description and more.
Martin Pearlman conducts Boston Baroque, Bach B Minor Mass. For the Boston Globe.