SEASONAL MUSIC: Christmas Music from Leipzig Wigmore Hall, London

The New Year's Eve concert at the Wigmore Hall was Christmas music from Leipzig, performed by eight singers and 12 instrumentalists of The King's Consort directed by Robert King. Extracts from JS Bach's Christmas Oratorio were interspersed with seasonal music by his predecessors as Cantor and a sinfonia by his pupil Johann Ludwig Krebs. These also-rans, or "interesting historical figures", are at a disadvantage when isolated works by them are heard against Bach's familiar music. You're already warm to Bach, but need to be persuaded by the unknowns. Even so, allowing for that, Krebs's Sinfonia in C minor, just for the strings, seemed not much more than a mildly pleasant change, and had a pretty dull middle movement. Kuhnau's "sacred concerto", O heilige Zeit, began and ended prosaically, with fugal sections on a distinctly humdrum subject, but the intervening arias were more engaging and included a winsome triple- time solo for James Bowman, though he sang it a bit patchily.

Johann Schelle's little cantata, Ach mein herzliebes Jesulein, was short and sweet, sung by the two sopranos, Deborah York and Tessa Bonner, with a continuo group of theorbo (a long-necked lute), cello and chamber organ. The audience, which though braced by champagne during the interval had found the Kuhnau only so-so, liked it.

York and Bonner were rather oddly matched, though, in Part 4 of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Fallt mir danken, where the huskier-voiced one had to echo the more pointed tones of the other in a slightly soporific game of double identities - the two oboes did the same. The gallant tenor Charles Daniels did well in his aria, one of Bach's typical trials of breath control. Which redeemed his honour after an accident-prone aria in Darzu ist erschienen, with its athletic parts for two natural horns, played with amazing cool by Andrew Clark and Gavin Edwards. They stood their ground to the bitter end, towards which it became clear that the two oboes, Katharina Spreckelsen and Alexandra Bellamy, were out of kilter, and as Robert King broadened his perky conducting gestures in a futile attempt to impose unity, the thing stopped in cheerful cacophony. Despite a good deal of decent singing, including strong solos from the countertenor Robin Blaze and the bass Peter Harvey, there was often a feeling of the rough and ready about the evening - a "we-do-this-everyday" kind of approach, even though this was meant to be a special occasion. Christmas comes but once a year, and no doubt many musicians think it's just as well.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk