J. Reilly Lewis, Washington Bach Consort bring to life Bach’s 18 Chorale Preludes


Performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s transcendent 18 Chorale Preludes don’t come along every day. Audiences rarely hear this music, especially in its massive entirety. And only sporadically do listeners crowd into churches for organ recitals, as many musicians lament. But organist J. Reilly Lewis, director of the Washington Bach Consort and of the Cathedral Choral Society, and the Consort drew a capacity audience Sunday at the National Presbyterian Church in Northwest Washington.

Lewis plumbed the depths of the Great 18, a reworking of Bach’s earlier music and one of the summits of his art. The church’s Aeolian-Skinner organ is a magnificent instrument with 6,000 pipes and five keyboards, well-suited for the spacious sanctuary.

Together with the Consort singers and instrumentalists, Lewis brought Bach’s music to life in a revelatory performance, underlining its expressive heights and countless array of emotional shades — words expressed ingeniously in the music. These preludes were a perfect match for an organ having vast sonic resources — including stops like the glistening flutes, the reedy crumhorn and Rohrschalmei.

Lewis preceded each group of organ settings with the Consort singing the four-part chorales — based on old Lutheran hymn tunes and even Gregorian chants — that Bach lavishly elaborated on an epic scale in his solo organ pieces.

Lewis enriched the performances of each prelude with his informative and inspired comments that were mercifully brief and devoid of pedantry.

Porter is a freelance writer.

Source : washingtonpost[dot]com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s