Sally Walker and Anna Fraser.

Image Credit: Peter Hislop

Fascinating journey through baroque music

The Genius, Salut! Baroque. At the Fairfax Theatre, National Gallery, February 16, 2024. Reviewed by Len Power, Canberra City News.

Although Johann Sebastian Bach held the position of Thomaskantor, director of church music, in Leipzig, Germany for 27 years until his death in 1750, he was not the first choice for that position.

Although Bach was an applicant, the position was offered to Georg Philip Telemann, who ultimately turned it down. The Leipzig Town Council then offered the position to a new applicant, Christoph Graupner, who was forced to decline as he was unable to be released from his current position. Only then was the position offered to Bach.

Salut! Baroque’s The Genius concert celebrated the work of Bach and his contemporaries with a music selection from the baroque period of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The artists who performed in various combinations, were Anna Fraser, soprano; Sally Melhuish and Alana Blackburn, recorders; Sally Walker, baroque flute; Meg Cohen and Sarah Papadopoulos, baroque violins; John Ma, baroque viola; Tim Blomfield, bass violin; Simon Martyn-Ellis, theorbo, and Monika Kornel, harpsichord.

As well as two works by Bach himself, the program included pieces by other composers of the period such as Buxtehude, Hurlebusch, Telemann, Keiser, Monteverdi, Reincken, Caldara, Handel, Bach’s son, Johann Christian Bach, and his rival for the kantor position, Christoph Graupner.

It was a fascinating journey through the baroque period. All works were well performed and highlights included Bach’s Aria, Aus liebe will mein Heiland sterben (Out of love my Saviour will die), with Anna Fraser’s beautiful soprano soaring above the accompaniment of the flute and two recorders, Monteverdi’s Madrigal, Lamento della Ninfa (Nymph’s Lament), with soprano, theorbo, flute and recorders as well as pieces by Hurlebusch and Keiser.

Bach’s Ouverture; Badinerie from Orchestral Suite No. 2 in which Sally Walker’s flute playing was delightful, brought this rich and enjoyable concert to a close.