Not a relation of JS, CPE or PDQ but the venue for today’s lunchtime presentation of two JS Bach cantatas by mezzo Lauren Eberwein and organist Hyejin Kwon with violinists Liz Johnston and Rezan Onen-Lapointe, violist Keith Hamm, cellist Paul Widner, bassist Robert Speer and oboeist Mark Rogers. The two pieces were Ich habe genug, BWV 82 and Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust BWV 170; both works about the approach of death and the soul’s yearning for rest and salvation.
It’s really pleasant and interesting to see these pieces presented in such an intimate way in an intimate setting. Somehow less is more in the orchestration. The textures are very clear and the varied way Bach uses the organ apparent. It also allows for a jazz like interplay between the soloist and whoever has the lead in the ensemble at any given time.
Then there is Lauren’s obvious joy in the music; something she conveys so tangibly it almost hurts. Backed up by a really fine ensemble (complete with Keith Hamm’s infectious footwork), it moves beyond merely enjoyable to truly moving. Her voice too has developed so well in the past twelve months. There’s some real depth now in the lower register as well as agility and fine musicianship. I wonder whether the Ensemble Studio has ever had a set of mezzos like the current three; all fine singers but so utterly different?