Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Canberra International Music Festival
Fitters Workshop, 3 May 2015

Reviewed by Len Power

It was a good idea to program these two quite different cantatas by Bach in the Canberra Music Festival’s ‘Bach On Sunday’ concert.

The cantata, ‘Ich habe genug’ (I have enough) was composed in 1727 for the Feast of Purification of Mary, also known as ‘Candlemas’.  It shares the common theological theme that death is understood to be a joyful release from the cares of the world.  The journey from an acceptance of approaching death to a peaceful resignation and ultimately to the joy of escaping worldly suffering is movingly portrayed through Bach’s music.

Original scheduled counter-tenor, Tobias Cole, was indisposed and baritone, David Greco, took his place at short notice.  The sombre theme of the early part of the work was movingly sung by Greco with the right amount of controlled feeling and his joyful singing of the relief from suffering displayed the full richness of his voice.

The second major item on the program, Bach’s ‘Coffee Cantata’ is a delightful mini-opera which details the clash between father and daughter when the father is concerned her life is ruled by the drinking of coffee.  A work for three voices, narrator, father and daughter, it’s a light and funny piece that was delightfully sung by tenor, Paul McMahon, as the Narrator, baritone David Greco as the father and soprano, Alex Oomens, as his daughter.  There was great acting chemistry between Greco and Oomens onstage and they were obviously enjoying performing it together.  Alex Oomens fine soprano was especially pleasing to listen to in this work.

Between the two cantatas there was a short work for two cellos, ‘Broken Rosary’, written and performed by Kate Moore, the composer, and Rosanne Hunt.  A deceptively simple work, it created a marvellously haunting atmosphere.

Originally published in Canberra City News digital edition 4 May 2015