Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 1, 2014

Berkshire Bach Society

St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA
September 27, 2014
by Barbara Stroup

To kick-off their impressive 2014-2015 season, Berkshire Bach Society welcomed Fall with a fine group of musicians who are the artistic core of Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City.

In a concert called “Bridging the Baroque," the program began with Mozart and ended with Vivaldi. Featuring violinist Krista Feeney, Vivaldi’s "The Four Seasons" was fiery, fierce, and passionate without being frenetic. Feeney had total command of her instrument, which freed her to play with sincerity and respect for the many changes in tempo and virtuosity that the music required. Ms. Mann had a wonderful flute technique for the Bach Orchestral Suite as well. She chose dance-like tempi that seemed entirely appropriate, and it was a relief not to hear this music rushed. Both soloists' ability to apply vibrato with conservative restraint was wonderful to the ears.

The ensemble behind these two players shone just as brightly as the soloists did, anchored by an amazing bass section that gave distinction to that pivotal department. John Feeney, on bass, was as virtuosic as it is possible to be on that slow-responding instrument, never allowing the sound to be anything but clear and supportive, both to the soloists and to his cello and keyboard companions.

Accustomed to hearing these pieces played by a much larger ensemble, the music gained in St. Luke’s presentation by letting the middle lines through, and listeners could hear both the support and complexity of Louise Schulman’s viola.

The concert was a gem in the acoustically rich space that the Mahaiwe has become, and the appreciation for the venue - as well as for Berkshire Bach - was reflected in a nearly sold-out house.

Berkshire Bach Society is dedicated to sharing the vast and wonderful repertoire of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, his contemporaries, the composers who influenced his work and those he inspired to achieve musical timelessness. Berkshire Bach seeks to reach the broadest possible audience for the works of J.S. Bach and his musical peers, mentors and followers. Performances range from solo instrumental recitals to large choral works with full orchestra.