Bach’s St Matthew Passion, performed on 16 April by the Cathedral Consort, West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Perth’s top soloists, was a resounding success.
This new concert performance version, meticulously crafted by Artistic Director Dr Joseph Nolan, set the mood for Easter week. The St Matthew Passion ends with the crucifixion, creating an anticipation of the resurrection at Easter. The performance worked brilliantly, leaving the audience with a feeling of light, depth, sorrow and hope all at once.
Pure sounds from the untouchable Consort blended seamlessly with exquisite orchestral counterparts. At key points, individual instruments spoke clearly amid the harmony of the whole, and the passion came alive in the singers’ retelling of the greatest story ever told. Soloists were strategically placed in and around the orchestra, while instrumentalists stood for key conversations with singers, achieving heightened theatrical effect and musical cohesion.
Joseph Nolan chose to bring a lightness to Bach’s masterpiece, while honouring the composer’s original intention, ensuring smooth key changes, and respecting the flow of the story. As a choral conductor, he did a wonderful job in drawing the instrumentalists into his vision, and they stepped up to their roles with panache.
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Image from Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and St George’s Cathedral Consort, conducted by Dr Joseph Nolan, April 2019. Photo: Rebecca Mansell