The emotional biblical drama of Bach’s St John Passion was portrayed powerfully by a fine performance at Brighton Dome Concert Hall.
Soloists met the high technical challenge of their parts well, aided in no small part by the conductor James Morgan maintaining a pace that did not threaten to outrun them, with excellent work by the musicians. In this context the strings showed both restless energy and restraint.
Tenor Robert Murray as the Evangelist evoked a sense of danger and betrayal, bass Paul Reeves(Christus) conveyed both authority and humility, while baritone Andrew Rupp’s Pilate showed the light and shade on his inner turmoil as “judge”.
It was moving to hear the Brighton Festival Chorus, celebrating 500 performances, excel with a graceful combination of gentle acceptance and a hint of pleading.
The sublime beauty of their singing floated across the partly “in the round” setting, yet at times they showed attack and some acting ability in the mocking crowd scenes.
There were good supporting roles from soprano Katherine Manley, mezzo soprano Juliette Pochin, tenor Mark Wilde and bass Ashley Riches, with subtle organ from Joseph Cullen and Claire Williams. Some beautiful bassoon and oboe playing in the small ensemble was sheer delight.