To celebrate the 75th birthday of the internationally renowned conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Barbican has invited him to curate a weekend of music by JS Bach from 15 – 17 June 2018, which will feature a very personal selection of works and performers. The programme will incorporate highlights from the Bachfest Leipzig, where Gardiner himself is President. The weekend includes:
A three-concert cycle of cantatas in the Barbican Hall (each one focusing on a specific liturgical theme) performed by two outstanding groups for whom Gardiner is Artistic Director: the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.
Baroque collective Solomon’s Knot performing motets by both JS Bach and his father’s cousin Johann Christoph in St Giles’ Cripplegate.
Internationally renowned soloists, including Jean Rondeau, Isabelle Faust, Kristian Bezuidenhout and Jean-Guihen Queyras, performing the composer’s chamber music.
The weekend forms the pinnacle of the Barbican Presents 2017/18 Baroque strand, and launches on 15 June 2018 with a concert of cantatas written for the Advent period, performed by the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists. These four extraordinary works (BWV 61, 70, 81 and 110), which Gardiner knows so intimately, demonstrate Bach at his most joyous, and are a fitting way to open a weekend that explores every aspect of the composer’s output. Soloists for the cantata cycle across the weekend include sopranos Hana Blažíková and Julia Doyle, countertenor Reginald Mobley and bass-baritone Peter Harvey.
On 16 June 2018 violinist Isabelle Faust and harpsichordist Kristian Bezuidenhout perform a selection of Bach’s violin sonatas (BWV 1004, 1014 and 1019), and his Toccata in D minor, BWV 913, in the intimate surroundings of LSO St Luke’s. Faust has made an impression for her bold interpretation of Bach’s violin repertoire, and the duo’s collaboration on all six sonatas has received great acclaim.
The same day sees eminent baroque collective Solomon’s Knot perform a selection of motets in St Giles’ Cripplegate by both JS Bach and his father’s cousin Johann Christoph (whom JS Bach described as “a profound composer”), in a juxtaposition that sheds light on the way that JS Bach was influenced by his family’s musical heritage. In the Barbican Hall that evening, the cycle of cantatas continues, with works from the liturgical period between Easter and Ascension (BWV 12, 20, 34 and 103,) once again performed by the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists.
On Sunday 17 June 2018, the charismatic and energetic harpsichord player Jean Rondeau performs Bach’s Goldberg Variations at Milton Court Concert Hall. Rondeau last performed at the Barbican during the Centre’s Sound Unbound Classical Music Weekender in 2017, where he made an impact with his Shock of the Baroque concert. Also at Milton Court that afternoon will be a performance of Bach’s first three Cello Suites from internationally celebrated French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, who is widely respected for his own nuanced understanding of these wonderfully mutable pieces.
Drawing the celebratory weekend to a close that evening in the Barbican Hall is a final performance from the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, of four jubilant cantatas written for the Trinity period (BWV 19, 78, 101 and 140). Out of the composer’s 200 plus cantatas these are among his most cherished works – perhaps most notably the popular Wachet Auf (BWV 140).
Sir John Eliot Gardiner has become a central figure in the early music revival and a pioneer of historically informed performance, partly because of his work with the Monteverdi Choir, which he founded in 1964 for a one-off performance of the Monteverdi Vespers (1610) in King's College Chapel. Since this performance, the Choir have become globally renowned, embarking on milestone international tours including the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000. Gardiner’s ensembles have since expanded to include the English Baroque Soloists (formed in 1978), now established as one of the world’s leading period instrument orchestras, and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.