In the presence of the royal couple, the Netherlands Bach Society, founded in 1921, performed the first concert of the jubilee season on Saturday. The program included one of the later works of composer JS Bach: his unfinished Art of the Fugue, a tour de force of polyphonic complexity, specific instruments indeterminate.
With his arrangement, violinist and artistic director Shunske Sato wants to show what the Netherlands Bach Society has to offer: he uses strings, traverso, zinc and trombone, but singers also pass by in all kinds of combinations. From the first Contrapunctus, by organ and vocalizing (‘papapa’) singers, the instrumentation prompted pricked ears. the coral When we are in dire straits, a version of which was published as early as 1751 with the ‘Kunst’, provided a refreshing variety between the fugues. And the sung chorale text – ‘free us from all plagues’ – was also very appropriate on one and a half meter abolition day.
Furthermore, under Sato, they mainly played it safe. The intonation of the ensemble was pure (except for the zinc), but not much happened dynamically. Folkert Uhde’s lighting plan often consisted of no more than a spotlight on who was playing at that moment; Not distracting, just a bit boring.
But then the lock. Gambists Mieneke van der Velden and Anna Lachegyi played the ‘Canon per Augmentation in contrario motu’ as if they were trying to comfort each other. Uhde illuminated them in chiaroscuro, so that we suddenly no longer seemed to be in a half-empty TiviliVredenburg but in a packed, dark cellar: there was suddenly the intimacy that Bach’s music sometimes invites.
The atmosphere contrasted delicately with the very last movement, the ‘Fuga a 3 soggetti’, completed for the occasion. As the fugue progressed, more and more instruments were added, while the crescendo light also filled the hall. Light and sound thus swelled together into a triumphant final chord. It brought exactly the musical and extra-musical extra drama that was missing before.