Bowman was on fine form, his powerful voice projecting to the rear of the abbey, always agile, rich in tonal colour (a slightly enfeebled lower register notwithstanding), and graced by much artfully tailored phrasing. Spreckelsen's warmly weaving accompaniment flowered in its ample acoustical space and the gentle pulsing of period strings provided a soothing instrumental backdrop.
The mood-change from resignation to celebration was facilitated by one of Bach's best-known secular cantatas, "Weichet nur, betrube Schatten", or the "Wedding Cantata", where Deborah York employed her small but stylishly modulated soprano to winning effect, most notably in the lilting fourth aria. This particular piece also makes use of the oboe da caccia, with its large open bell and fuller sonority, whereas Pergolesi's rapturously beautiful Stabat Mater found York and Bowman joining forces in happy accord. At first, I wondered if the sheer volume of Bowman's voice might dominate his partner (the first movement's overlapping suspensions showed signs of imbalance), but things soon settled down and the performance offered sublime reportage of what has become one of the repertory's most popular sacred works. Robert Cowan