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An unusual Evangelist in Bach


Copenhagen Solists rendered ”St. Matthew Passion” with growing intensity and nerve  

Peter Dürrfeld (Kristeligt Dagblad, April 2nd 2019)
4 stars


It began perhaps somewhat anonymously, when Copenhagen Solists under the direction of Jonathan Ofir, on Friday rendered Johann Sebastian Bach’s probably best-known work, “St. Matthew Passion”. But right after the opening chorus, one began to open one’s eyes and ears widely. A female singer stepped forth, one who had just given her full measure in the opening movement ”Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen” (come ye daughters, help me mourn). Now she was singing the Evangelist role in the first strophes of the story of Jesus’s suffering and death. For many, this Evangelist role, where Bach has used verbatim Luther’s own bible translation, hangs together with a tenor voice – and perhaps preferably the lyrical type. And one had to get used to the fact, that it was a soprano, which carried us through the telling from Matthew chapters 26 and 27.  
Her name is Anna Maria Wierød. And one did not have to reach far into the plot – the passion develops quickly into a highly-charged story – before she, with vocal penetrative force and dramatic sense, showed herself to be splendid as the one who holds the strings together in Bach’s rich and complex work. As well, her German pronunciation was exemplary. That one became growingly taken by the work, was also due to Jonathan Ofir, who got the choir and orchestra to play and sing with greater intensity and nerve, as things escalated.


“St. Matthew Passion” unveiled itself movement for movement after the special concept that is a trademark for Copenhagen Soloists: a performance of such a great work is perceived as a collective undertaking, and the 13 choir singers take turns in stepping forward and rendering the many arias and duets, which constitute a considerable part of the whole. And in the program, one had avoided listing names – so the audience was to discover who takes up the most central parts, for example the Evangelist – not to mention Jesus, which was sung with fine sonority and a calm demeanour by bass-baritone Piet Larsen.


Yet one could opine, that it was somewhat of a bizarre choice, that Piet Larsen – just after Jesus had given up the spirit – would also sing the bass aria ”Mache dich, mein Herze, rein, ich will Jesum selbst begraben” (Make thyself clean, my heart, I would myself bury Jesus). It is not a trivial dissent, when a concert is also a visual experience, and considering that the choir includes other capable basses.

But that did not come to cause great wounds in the delight of being able to deepen in “St. Matthew Passion”’s miraculous mystery – which in my universe is the best possible preparation to the nearing Easter.


About the work
J.S. Bach: St. Matthew Passion. With Copenhagen Soloists, conducted by Jonathan Ofir. The concert was repeated Saturday at St. Pauls church, Aarhus, and Sunday St. Mariæ church, Helsingør.





Handheld precision


Copenhagen Soloists were at the Domkirke with a beautiful baroque program
By Ole Josephsen
Music reviewer [Helsingør Dagblad, January 9th 2019]


MUSIC: Four soloists from the ensemble Copenhagen Soloists composed the quartet, which on Sunday afternoon performed a well-attended concert at Helsingør Domkirke.
They called the program “Between Paris and Hamburg”, in that the works which they played were composed by three composers in Paris and one in Hamburg. The style was baroque, and all four were contemporaries of J.S. Bach.
The participants were Winnie Bugge Frandsen, transverse flute, Jonathan Ofir, violin, Hanna Thiel, viola da gamba, and Gilbert Martinez, harpsichord, and they emphasized Copenhagen Soloists’s international aspect by representing Denmark, Israel, Germany an USA.


Elegant and fiery

From Jean Marie Leclair, born 1697, we heard an Ouverture in several movements, where it was the transverse flute which had the main part, while the others constituted the harmonic fundament in this light and elegant music.
Jean Philippe Rameau, born 1683, composed several ”Pièces de clavecin en concert”, of which we heard nr.3. Here the harpsichord has a natural leading part. In the final Tambourine movement the tempo rose gradually and the work ended with fire and fury.


Music for dance

Francois Couperin, born 1668, was a harpsichord teacher for Louis XIV’s children and composed a series of ”Concerts Royaux” (royal concerts). Here we heard the first concert, where the movements were composed for the baroque dances: Allemande, Sarabande, Gavotte, Gigue and Menuet. Delivered with precision and elegance.
Georg Philipp Telemann, born 1681, was a very industrious composer. Stylistically, his music is between Bach and Haydn and with considerable French influence. Here we heard his “new” Paris-quartets from 1738, where the many movements have French names, for example Très vite, Gracieusement and Moderé. The four musicians had the opportunity to stand out with brilliant soli, dialogues, joyous games and displaced rhythms, before the whole landed softly and seriously in the last movement. 
Copenhagen Soloists often perform larger works with many participants, yet here we met four dedicated chamber musicians, who played with insight, handheld precision and elegance.

Mozart at a high level


Copenhagen Soloists offered three big Mozart works in Mørdrup

Ole Josephsen (Helsingør Dagblad, 18.10.2018)


Copenhagen Soloists presented themselves with three big works from the Mozart-repertoire in Mørdrup church. The concert, arranged by Espergærde Music Society, included Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, the motet “Exultate Jubilate” and Symphony nr. 40. Copenhagen Soloists is originally a baroque ensemble, but it has now expanded the repertoire into the classics. They play on period instruments and strive after a historically authentic sound.


A conversation for strings 


Sinfonia Concertante had Jensenka Balic Zunic on violin and Fredrik From on viola as soloists. It is a double-concerto, where the two solo instruments each have solo sections and cadences, yet they also have sections where their lines interweave with each other in blissful harmony. The first movement has a good forward motion, where winds and strings act in concert with the solo instruments. The slow adagio movement called upon the soft tone of both the violin and the viola, which conducted a profound and intense dialogue. In the last movement, there was once again a speedy movement with virtuosic parts for both soloists.


Beautifully played 


Crystal-clear song-joy The soprano Sophie Thing-Simonsen was soloist in the solo-motet ”Exultate Jubilate”, which hails the arrival of dawn. Her voice is confident and crystal-clear, and she radiates a natural joy of singing. In the slow and pacifying beautiful andante movement, the voice sounded soft and agile, and in the final vivacious Halleluja movement the virtuosic coloraturas were precisely placed.


An impressive presentation 


The organ, played by Gilbert Martinez, was a good support Ingenious and dramatic Symphony nr. 40 in G-Minor is an ingenious symphony, by many opinions Mozart’s best. It is in any case the most dramatic of all his symphonies. The horrid dissonances and heavy rhythms are strong means of expression and comprise in many ways an entry pathway into the modern symphonic music.

Copenhagen Soloists portrayed itself at the afternoon concert as a full-blood Mozart Orchestra. With light bowings and strong pulse – and each note was placed precisely where it should. Jonathan Ofir conducted with plasticity and clarity. He embraces the orchestra and makes it breath. After three times Mozart at high level, one went home happy, in the final sun rays of the late autumn day.




Mozart in Christian IV’s old church 


A Mozart-concert in Holmens church featured the shortest work as its artistic climax

Concert **** BY PETER DÜRRFELD (Kristeligt Dagblad, 16.10.2018)


Holmens church has, with its long history, experienced quite a lot, since Christian IV in September 1619 had it inaugurated as a naval church in Frederik II’s old anchor forge. On the musical level, in the 21st century, it has – not least thanks to its initiative-rich organist Jakob Lorentzen – received status as one of the capital’s most exciting concert venues, with oratorios of Bach and Händel which draw in large audiences into the old church hall. Saturday afternoon before the autumn vacation, the occasion was a purely-Mozart program including three works, performed by the ensemble Copenhagen Soloists, conducted by Jonathan Ofir. The program opened with the exquisite “Sinfonia Concertante” for violin, viola and orchestra, which Mozart composed in the winter of 1779-80 at his home in Salzburg. The two solo parts were placed in the hands of to delightful musicians from Concerto Copenhagen, violinist Jesenka Balic Zunic and violist Fredrik From, but it cannot be denied, that the work as a whole did not seriously lift – perhaps it was because it is a challenge to perform it on “authentic instruments”, perhaps because there was a missing flow in the heavenly andante and more reckless spirit in the final presto, which was taken in a tempo which sounded more like a comfortable allegro. The other Mozart grand-work was Symphony number 40, the middle one of the three which Mozart composed in the summer of 1788, and which he probably never got to hear himself. It was well-shouldered by the not-so-large Copenhagen Soloists with concertmaster Hannah Tibell as a fine motivator, carrying the symphony through so well across its four movements, and Jonathan Ofir showed here a fine sense for coherence and tempi, which sounded natural and once again showed, that true musicality rarely disappoints. Between the two large compositions one could experience the concert’s artistic climax, where Sophie Thing-Simonsen was soloist in the motet “Exultate, jubilate”, composed in Milano in January 1773, when Mozart was only 17-years- old. The captivating youth-work is written in Latin and has a duration of a mere quarter-of-an-hour. But Sophie Thing-Simonsen sang it with a convincing vocal confidence and with an irresistible surplus, and in addition, this early work is perhaps best fit for the small ensemble’s muscle and style of playing. As we heard it on that beautiful autumn afternoon in the heart of Copenhagen, it was a true pearl.

Mozart’s Requiem for sold-out churches


By Peter Dürrfeld, Kristeligt Dagblad, 7th November 2017

Copenhagen Soloists has by now existed for 11 years. It is a soloistic vocal and instrumental ensemble, which portrays a considerable level of ambition in performing some of the biggest baroque works – next month they thus perform J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor – and they have recently expanded repertoire to the classical period. 

In the first weekend of November they thus presented a couple of performances of Mozart’s unfinished and immortal Requiem, the last number in the 626 works under the so-called Köchel-catalogue covering the genius’ works.

And there was so much demand for tickets to both Sct. Paul’s church in Århus and Helligåndskirken in Copenhagen, that an extra concert was added Sunday evening. The latter was also performed for a completely sold-out church. 

It is uplifting to experience – as one could four days earlier at the same place with Brahms and Copenhagen Kantatekor – that the interest for spiritual music at this high level is so strong. 

In the usual version, which one chose for the performance of the myth-bound Requiem, the duration is less than an hour, but despite the compact duration it is profound and thrilling enough to constitute a full concert. “A work concerning mystery and death” is the title which the choir’s founder and director, the 45-year old local resident Israeli Jonathan Ofir, chose to call it in his program notes article, and the incredibly dedicated conductor got his somewhat illness-stricken team of singers and musicians to perform it with the required passion and – overall – with the just as required precision. 

It is apparently an artistic principle of the ensemble, that the vocal solos are circulated: Members of the choir perform in turn the various soprano, alto, tenor and bass solos which the score includes. This can obviously create a certain diversity in tone and interpretation, so one comes to compare the singers and possibly miss the former soloist. 

Likewise, one retains the concept of playing on “period instruments”, which sound as in the composer’s time (as far as one may ascertain). This may cause certain passages to sound a bit raw, but this was not the full explanation for there having been some lack of clarity in the first violins for the first concert at Helligåndskirken.   

But overall, the chamber-music inclined orchestra and choir tackled the challenge up to three big stars.


About the work:

Mozart’s Requiem, KV 626, with Copenhagen Soloists and Jonathan Ofir in Århus and Copenhagen





Mass with opera and counterpoint 


Review of a Rossini-concert at Mørdrup Kirke By Ole Josephsen Civil Journalist (Helsingør Dagblad, March 30th 2017) ESPERGÆRDE:


The concert at Mørdrup church Sunday afternoon, which was arranged by Espergærde Music Society, offered a single work: Rossini’s last larger work “Petite Messe Solennelle” – meaning “Little Solemn Mass”. It is neither little nor solemn, but rather a very unusual work by a composer who managed to compose nearly 40 operas. In the mass, arias in Italian style are merged with counterpoint in the chorus movements. The performers were Copenhagen Soloists with a solistic choir of 9 singers, selected from amongst else Danish Radio Vocal Ensemble, DR Concert Choir, Ars Nova, Swedish opera scenes and the Fyn Opera. Beyond serving as choir, the singers also served as soloists, and each aria therefore felt as if it had naturally arisen from the choir. The conductor was Jonathan Ofir. The duet “Qui Tollis” was sung softly and intimately by soprano Anna Forsebo and alto Simone Rønn. Bass Staffan Liljas filled the church with his sonorous voice in the “Quoniam” movement. “Crucifixus” was a beautiful aria with light high tones in Radmila Rajic’s rendering, and the concluding “Agnus Dei” was peaceful and moving with Johanne Thisted Højlund as alto soloist. Alto Nana Bugge Rasmussen, tenors Adam Riis and Emil Lykke as well as bass Piet Larsen took the rest of the solo parts. The chorus movements were sung with a glow, which coloured the various vocal lines. In the very precise fugues there was quick pace, and the counterpoint had actual swing to it. In “Sanctus” the choir was heard a-capella in a sequence that could have been a soft lullaby with a steady flow of beautiful harmonies. With a choir of only 9 singers, the sound picture becomes transparent, and one can follow the individual lines in the polyphonic sound picture. The “orchestra” consisted of Christina Bjørkøe on the church’s distinguished Steinway grand piano and Gilbert Martinez on the little portable organ. Here it was Christina Bjørkøe making the big statements. Rossini had written a piano part that was to act as a big orchestra, and it certainly did add up to a lot of notes. Christina Bjørkøe had hardly any pauses – and played confidently and surely from start to finish. Towards the end, she got a movement for herself, as Rossini had inserted a “religious prelude”, an intermezzo, which contrasts with the mass’s style in having a distinct romantic character. Gilbert Martinez on the little organ (Rossini had assigned a harmonium) contributed with chords and single melodies, but otherwise the composer did not give the instrument much space in the collective sound picture. Rossini’s mass became a rare musical experience. Vocally beautifully conveyed by the 9 singers from Copenhagen Soloists, beautifully framed in by Christina Bjørkøe and Gilbert Martinez, and impressively staged and directed by Jonathan Ofir. The public responded with standing ovations.


The aging Rossini mass 


By Peter Dürrfeld (Kristeligt Dagblad, 28th March 2017) Concert

(4 stars)


The immensely productive Gioachino Rossini had composed 39 operas throughout the first 38 years of his life, but at the other half of his life (he reached age 76) he mostly put his composition notepaper away, in order to indulge in other joys, including gastronomy. Nonetheless there were exceptions – most notably perhaps the so-called ”Petite Messe Solennelle” which he created in 1863, if not for house needs, then for salon needs. This is the explanation for why the 75-minute work has also gained the somewhat derogatory nickname “Salon-mass”. Last Saturday, the ensemble Copenhagen Soloists chose to perform the mass with merely nine singers: Sopranos Anna Forsebo and Radmilla Rajic, altos Nana Bugge Rasmussen, Johanne Thisted Højlund and Simone Rønn, tenors Adam Riis and Emil Lykke as well as basses bases Staffan Liljas and Piet Larsen. They were not only assigned solos, but also choruses, so it was a busy afternoon for the dedicated singers, led by their equally dedicated conductor, Jonathan Ofir. The marvelous pianist Christina Bjørkøe played a considerably more substantial role than Gilbert Martinez on the little harmonium (“living room - organ”). Her long solo piece in the second part, which Rossini had dubbed “Preludio Religioso”, was, for my ears, the most religious, within a mass which otherwise carried the sense of the experienced opera composer’s means of expression. Thus, the opening “Kyrie Eleison” sounded lulling, as if it could have been incorporated as a barcarole in one of Rossini’s big opera successes from the period in which the whole of Europe hailed him as the period’s greatest opera composer as well as an Italian Mozart. Although Copenhagen Soloists’ performance was not completely absent of a few small blemishes, it was a rewarding experience to experience the rarely performed work in the midst of the capital’s old working-class quarter. Blågårds Plads has, with its location in the midst of the Big Square, had a tumultuous history, right from the time in the 1800’s when the residents protested against haing the square “vandalized” by new multi-story buildings. Blågårds kirke (church), which was constructed in the middle of the 1920’s, was closed down on the 1st of January 2014 with a service attended by the Copenhagen Bishop, Peter Skov-Jakobsen. The building was sold for cultural usage and received the name Koncertkirken. Only in the course of March this year it has hosted International Women’s Day, Tango Passion, several Jazz concerts, Vivaldi’s evergreen “The Four Seasons” – and now also a rare bird, created by the master, whom in his Italian native town is still called the Swan of Pesaro. In the score he wrote these words: “My Lord, it is completed, this little mass. Have I just composed religious music – or perhaps sacrilegious music? The question, 254 years later, seems impossible to answer definitely. Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle, Copenhagen Soloists directed by Jonathan Ofir



Review of Mozart concert: Torso or full body (Århus Stiftstiderne)


BY: OLE STRAARUP, RED@STIFTEN.DK Published 27. november 2016 16:50


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts completed mass in C-minor could be hear at Sct. Paul’s church Saturday. Mozart’s great mass attempted as a complete mass by a Copenhagen ensemble Facts Wolfgang Amdeus Mozart: Mass in C-minor. Copenhagen Soloists, conductor: Jonathan Ofir. Sct. Paul’s church, Saturday afternoon 4 stars CULTURE: After several years of musical directorship of Copenhagen Soloists, a vocal and orchestral ensemble that, as the title suggests, is solistically casted, Jonathan Ofir has taken upon himself to provide a completed version of Mozart’s great mass in C minor. As is the case with another one of the composer’s great works, the Requiem, the mass in C minor was left incomplete, and since Mozart’s death there have been several attempts made at filling in the holes of the work with various cuts and borrowings from other works by the composer. In Jonathan Ofir’s version, the filling out has been achieved by borrowings from Missa Longa (KV 262) and Missa Solemnis (KV 337), and this has made the Credo complete as well as adding a concluding Agnus Dei and Dona Nobis Pacem. Without delving into technicalities, I must say, that this manner of providing a full mass sequence definitely works well in itself, but that I personally prefer the torso, the incomplete composition. This is partly to do with the sense that the work in its incomplete form has its own unique aura, as well as the fact that Mozart isn’t just Mozart: There is an expressional difference that comes with the extra added movements. But having said that, one must acknowledge the attempt as both interesting and – specifically – musically exciting to listen to. Copenhagen Soloists and Jonathan Ofir have a lot of passion and, not least, a great musical potential and power of expression. It works exceptionally well, that the professional choir singers can also be soloists, and that the interaction between orchestra and singers in dynamic respect is extremely expressive. One really catches the Mozartian expression in both a musical as well as a religious sense. For a few moments one experienced a certain rhythmic unrest and a lack of tempo synchronization between orchestra and singers, but overall Jonathan Ofir drove the performance to a fine, cohesive experience. The soloists amongst the choir singers were especially good, in the female side with Sophie Thing Simonsen, Radmilla Rajic, Anna Maria Wierød and Marianne Heuer in various combinations, and the collective choir work was both technically and musically convincing. Mozart is demanding. The orchestra on so-called authentic [period] instruments was likewise convincing, lively and agile in its playing, also powerful when required. Copenhagen Soloists has not performed earlier in Århus. Orchestra, choir soloists and conductor were all a very good acquaintance, which one would gladly listen to again.



Jovial Mozart and virtuose cello

A festive classical introduction to the season in Espergærde Music Society

By Bodil Strandgaard Schau, civil journalist (Helsingør Dagblad, 20th September 2016)

Espergærde: It can hardly be more festive – Espergærde Music Society opened its 37th season last Sunday at Mørdrup Kirke with a purely classical program.
Copenhagen Soloists, directed by the orchestra’s conductor and founder Jonathan Ofir, played some of the most well-known and beloved pieces of Mozart and Haydn.
Mozart’s Divertimento in D major, also known as “Salzburg symphony nr. 1”, was composed by him already at the age of 16, before he was hired for the court of Salzburg. In the first movement one was as if floating with the music through the air and towards the ceiling, whilst the third movement, allegro, is a teasingly jovial, as only Mozart can be. Mozart’s symphony nr. 29 was more dancing in its nature.

The cello star Brantelid
The roaring applause which welcomed Andreas Brantelid, indicated that many had been particularly looking forward to hear Denmark’s leading cellist play Josef Haydn’s two cello concertos.
Andreas Brantelid has been playing the cello since he was four years old and had a debut at age 14 with Elgar’s cello concerto. This evening he played on a Stradivarious from 1707!
There is a lot of temperament in Haydn’s cello concertos, but also an intimacy. In a very quiet cello solo, one could almost hear the famous pin drop.

Perhaps not by Haydn
It is told that the cellist Nikolaus Kraft, around 1837, claimed that the cello concerto nr. 2 was actually composed by his father, the virtuoso cellist Anton Kraft. As Haydn’s original manuscript was lost, one could only guess the authenticity. Perhaps the work includes themes by Haydn, which were handed to Kraft for the forming of solo passages.
Haydn’s cello concerto nr. 1 was first discovered in 1961, but here there is no doubt that it is a Haydn work. When one listens to it, one can get the thought, that there is something “modern” about the cello solos, which seem to point further on in time beyond the classical era.
Joseph Haydn was born 24 years before Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and lived 18 years longer than him. Haydn is regarded as “the father of quartets and symphonies”, but he regarded Mozart as an extraordinary genius. In his merely 36-year short, but productive life, he managed to create music of an unmistakable sound, which remains as famous and beloved today.
As Jonathan Ofir notes in the program, questions of “who inspired who” and “who came before whom”, can never be answered fully, when we regard art. The inspiration flows throughout.

Something to look forward to
Jonathan Ofir conducted with great engagement, and the orchestra elucidated with great expression the music’s various nuances. There were long final ovations in the filled church.
The program for the hereby opened season at Espergærde Music Society looks promising.
One can first look forward to an orated concert with Kammerkoret Musica, which plays music to texts of Shakespeare, Sunday the 23rd of October.

Classical evergreens by Bach

Copenhagen Soloists swayed through from Polonaise to orchestra suite and cantata.
By Bodil Strandgaard Schau
Civil journalist
Helsingør Dagblad, 30th September 2015


ESPERGÆRDE: The season’s second concert at Espergærde Music Society offered secular music by J.S. Bach, performed by Copenhagen Soloists.
Also on such a beautiful autumn day a large audience had found its way to the concert at the Espergærde Highschool hall to listen to Johann Sebastian Bach’s orkestral suite nr. 2 and Brandenburg concerto nr. 5, probably amongst Bachs most well-known and beloved works.
Copenhagen Soloists played under the directorship of the ensemble’s conductor and founder, the Israeli-born Jonathan Ofir. The two Swedish violinists, Hannah Tibell and Hanna Ydmark, Rastko Roknic from the former Yugoslavia on viola, Icelandish Hanna Loftsdottir on cello, Jennifer Dill on traverse flute and American Megan Adie on double-bass and Gilbert Martinez on harpsichord.
All have impressing, international carriers behind them, and the ensemble concentrates on playing large-scale baroque works in chamber-musical fashion on period instruments.

A royal dance
Johann Sebastian Bach had been a court musician, before engraving his name for posterity as a church musician during his post at the St. Thomas church in Leipzig.
Bach’s four orchestral suites originate from his time as court chapel-master for Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen 1717-1723. They are composed according to a grid of the then-popular French dance suite, all of them for strings with varied solo instruments.
In suite nr. 2 it is the traverse flute that covers the solo parts, this afternoon virtuosically played by Jennifer Dill, who studied at the Royal Danish Music Conservatory. The overture opens the dance suite, where the French king enters the hall. Here the traverse flute and first violin play first in unison, where afterwards a solo part with flute ensues.

Eminent Polonaise
The following Rondeau is more calm, the Sarabande more lyrical, and the flute less prominent. The Bourée is, as the dance which it is inspired by, more lively, whilst the Polonæse appears majestic in nature. During a Polonaise the dancers typically march in in rows and set up for the following dance, often a minuet. Badinerie as the concluding movement is quick and lively and is carried forth in this suite by a flute solo. Jennifer Dill swept the audience also here. ”A classical hit” one might be lured to call this last movement, which most would probably be able to hum when they hear it

Virtuoso solo passages
The six respective, and very different, Brandenburg concertos were composed by Bach in 1721 upon commission of the Field Duke of Brandenburg. The 5th Brandenburg concerto is distinguished by the harpsichord’s prominent role. The other solo instruments are traverse flute and violin.
The second movement, where the three solo instruments play on their own, has a more intimate character, in that the violin and flute conduct a muted dialogue with the harpsichord in a more held back role. The final movement is again lively, and the audience followed breathlessly Gilbert Martinez’s virtuoso solo passages on the harpsichord.

When the camera went solo
Towards the end of the second movement a technical noise interfered. Several people looked feverishly at their cellphones – despite the chairman’s kind reminding to turn on the phones after the concert.
It turned out to be the ensemble’s own video camera, which suddenly took over the solo role. Jonathan Ofir stepped down calmly from the conductor stage and fixed the technical problem with a jovial remark, before continuing with the final movement. I the break one could as usual buy a glass of wine or other beverage, and there was opportunity for sharing of musical experiences amongst the audience.

Bach probably composed nearly 300 cantatas (of which just over 200 have been found). Most are church cantatas, and nowadays one would mostly relate the term to church music, but Bach had also composed secular cantatas.
Som guess, that ”Non sa che sia dolore” (One knows not what sorrow is) was composed in 1734 as a farewell cantata for one of Bach’s students, but one is not certain.
With great passion, as well as a warm and rich voice, the Swedish soprano Klara Ek conveyed the sorrow of the separation from a dear friend – whilst one wishes them success in their journey.
Also the long, bearing passages flowed with an impressing, natural lightness. Klara Ek has studied at the Royal High School of Music in Stockholm, University College of Opera in Stockholm and The Royal College of Music in London.

Uplifting afternoon
The concert left one both uplifted and relaxed. In Bach’s tonal language – which is often described as the ultimate mathematical tonality – there is something expansive and uplifting. The ceiling seems elevated.
The next concert at Espergærde Music Society is on Sunday the 18th October 4PM, this time at Mørdrup Church, where the public can look forward to hearing Camerata chamber choir.



Spectacular performance of Monteverdi's Orpheus in Mørdrup Kirke

By Ole Josephsen

Music reviewer

Helsingør Dagblad 18th Sept. 2014


A musical work, created over 400 years ago, can still have a message for modern man. This was proven by the instrumental and vocal ensemble Copenhagen Soloists Sunday afternoon with 15 musicians and 7 singers in Mørdrup Kirke.

The large audience was offered a rare experience, as the world's first opera, Monteverdi's "Orpheus" of 1607 was resurrected in this, Espergærde Music Society's first concert of the new season. Monteverdi had herewith made scenic the Greek tragedy of Orpheus, who loses his beloved Euridice, wins her back, only to lose her again. It is the story of the hero, who defies the Gods, yet must learn, that such actions cannot go unpunished.

Mathias Hedegaard had the major role as Orpheus, and with his balanced and well-resonating tenor he expressed convincingly the hero's alternating moods, from the euphoric in the joy of love to Euridice, to the dramatic in the anger and grief over having lost her. His prayer to Charon in order to be sailed over to Hades "Possente spirito", was ornamented with finely controlled coleraturas and was no doubt the highlight of the opera.

Christina Larsson Malmberg was a beautiful sounding soprano in the role of Euridice.

Anna Jobrant, light soprano, and Simone Rønn, dark alto, proved great virtues in the many roles sung, and in the male roles were Adam Riis, Erlend Tyrmi and Steffen Bruun, deep bass, who completed the spectrum of sound.

The internationally collated instrumental ensemble applied an arsenal of baroque instruments, for example dulcian, cornett, theorbo and gamba, and was well complemented by Mordrup Kirkes acoustics. Under Jonathan Ofir's flaming conducting, the 15 musicians with their heartfelt sense for baroque music were able to create the appropriate accompaniement and counterweight for the singers.

Jonathan Ofir deserves respect for the feat of setting up such a force of singers and players and make it all come together to a complete whole.

We were witness to a spectacular performance of Monteverdi's Orpheus.



(Kristeligt Dagblad, Kultur, 5.12.2012)


High to the ceiling

Copenhagen Soloists delighted with beautiful baroque compositions at the Marble Church in Copenhagen.

Bach: Magnificat – Vivaldi: Gloria – Corelli: Christmas concert – Copenhagen soloists under direction of Jonathan Ofir at Marmorkirken. ****

The winter's first snow lay bright upon Copenhagen's impressive "axis", which goes from the Opera at the Holmen canal, through the Amalienborg Castle Square and on the the entrance of the Marble Church (Marmorkirken). Here the doors were opened Sunday afternoon for one of the year's first Christmas concerts, and the church hall itself was a beautiful ecology for a concert with a large repertoire value and an unmistakable Christmas sense.
The ensemble Copenhagen Soloists has by no coincidence specialized in performance of baroque music, and here they performed, under the conducting of Jonathan Ofir three popular compositions from the early 1700's: Vivaldi's versatile "Gloria", Corelli's concerto grosso opus 6 nr. 8- also known as "Christmas Concert" – as well as Bach's great "Magnificat".
The tile of the latter mentioned work refers to the latin translation of Luke 1, 46-55, which is also known as Maria's praise.
It begins with the phrase: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior!" This passage comes just before the Christmas evangelical text's famous words "And it came to pass in those days…", so this Bach vocal work no doubt belongs at a Christmas concert.
As is well known, the Marble Church has a very high ceiling, and the acoustics can be exceedingly difficult to work with.
Yet, whether it is because of the very big public (which perhaps took some of the echo away?), or whether it was the musicians and singers in Copenhagen Soloists who had managed to acclimatize to the conditions, all three works came through reasonably, and the concert was marked by a fine balance between the instrumental and the vocal elements – not least the beautiful female voices, which ascended towards the dome and which, at least for the writer, created a sense of angel song.
And concerning the instrumental aspect , one could amongst else rejoice over the delightful oboe accompaniment in both the Vivaldi and Bach works. In the "Christmas concert" on the other hand, which perhaps is a touch over-acclaimed, it was strings only and a so-called "portable-organ" (meticulously and musically treated by Daniel Bruun) which were at play.
Danish Radio was present, and the concert can be (re-)experienced on P2-Koncerten Tuesday the 18th of December from 19:20. By the way, Copenhagen Soloists will sound again towards Easter, where on the 22nd March in Helsingør Domkirke and 24th March in Marmorkirken they will perform the St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach.



Gnomes or Angels or Bach


Music: Review: Gnomes, light-festoons with stars, single angels, all kinds of Christmas music from speakers in the supermarkets and in the streets are an unmistakable sign that Christmas has invaded us, whether we are for or against! Some places it is impossible to choose, we are caught in it all, horror or happiness! Somewhere there is a choice of music: We can go to one of the many concerts in churches f.ex, - there we can find peace from the barging, undesired tones, perhaps there are also angels – there is in any case a plentitude of offers from now to the 24th of December. Noone can make it all – so here one must make ones choices between all the tempting concerts. In the recent weekend my choice was a concert in Helsingør Domkirke with the ambitious ensemble Copenhagen Soloists with conductor and solo violinist Jonathan Ofir as primus motor in the ensemble, which that evening consisted of a single solo singer, soprano Keren Motseri, one solist on transvers flute, Cecilia Flodén, cembalist David Shemer, four strings on baroque instruments and in a section of cantata 51 ‘Jauchzet Gott in Allen Landen’ a virtuoso baroque trumpet was heard, played by Niels Tilma. Soprano Keren Motseri was soloist in this cantata and with her warmly resonating voice, that moved with ease through Bach most difficult registers she moved us, because she sounded, as if this praising of God came from a glad heart. Cecilia Flodéns playing on the soft sounding transvers flute was a congenial ‘partner’. Earlier she was fabulous in the 2nd suite i B minor – the small ensemble was a delightful revival for the original orchestra suite, just as the other works also received nevived quality with the few, outstanding musicians, who fulfilled all of our wishes concerning genuine musicianship. Even Brandenburg concerto nr. 5 became a small pearl, not least because the big harpsichord solo was played so magnificently by David Shemer! Once again has Jonathan Ofir succeeded to construct an ensemble of soloists! In the afternoon in Helligaandskirken in Copenhagen this same concert brought 150 listeners! Unfortunately the Domkirke could not say the same; but those who were present were delighted for the fine musical Bach-evening. The church has both its own Christmas concert and Rotary’s traditional concert, and as well, the week up to Christmas offers the small afternoon concerts, which one can read of in Tuesday’s paper. Grethe Jørgensen, Helsingør Dagblad, Dec. 5th 2007






Beautiful and transparent performance of Händel's Messiah


Music: Mark my words, 20 singers and musicians managed to bring Händel's popular 'Messiah' to new hights at a performance in Helsingør Domkrike Saturday night. A transparency, which allowed us to hear the music more intense, grasp the texts in a new way, whether it was the arias or choruses. The choir consisted of nine singers, all taken from proffessional rows, all with high level solistic qualities, and the soli were taken by the choir members with great beauty in the unforgettable arias, which one hums long after one has gone home. (Especially, when oneself has, at the dawn of time, been part in singing Messiah)...

  The ensemble which performed Messiah is named Copenhagen Soloists with good reason, for also the eleven professional instrumentalists managed with fine entrances and impressing accompaniement of choir and soli to accomplish these parts, and the orchestra movements resonated full of beauty and with that transparency, which the musical girl beside me called 'as woven jewelry'!

   It was a chamber musical performance, without conductor, but with the fine violinist Jonathan Ofir as standing concertmaster, who surely and with few means brought the almost three hour long performance to success with great applause from the audience, whcih filled up the church completely.

  Hereby did Copenhagen Soloists make their debut in Helsingør Domkirke, a fact which we can be proud of, because I believe the ensemble has a long future ahead! Already the day after, Sunday the 10th was Messiah performed for a second time; this time in Helligaandskirken in Copenhagen.

  In the printed program one can see, that the ensemble has planned to performances of Bach's St John Passion Friday the 6th April, 15:00 at Helligaandskirken in Copenhagen and Saturday the 7th April, 16:00 at Vor Frue Kirke in Kalundborg..


Grethe Jørgensen Helsingør Dagblad, Tuesday 12th December 2006






St. John Passion as chamber music


Music: Can one squeeze Bach's grand St. John Passion, in regards to the number of performers, and do with 9 singers and 11 musicians? This was the task for the new solistic vocal and instrumental ensemble 'Copenhagen Soloists' Saturday afternoon in Tikøb church, and one must say, that the ensemble solved the task with bravura. Bach's score was interpreted with musical naturalness, so the audience - a full Tikøb church - got an experience of the rare kind.

  It was a St John Passion performed in chamber musical fashion, where each phrase, each harmony, each choir movement and each intimate aria and choral were lighted with a clear bright hue. The work is clearly a choir composition which poses great demand as to intonation and precision, and when the choir consists of only 2 singers per each of the four voices, then the demand is greater than what would normally be required of a choir singer. The 8 singers voices were interbalanced and the result felt volumewise just as full as a big choir. All 8 singers performed as well, in most beautiful fashion, as soloists in the passion's arias. Here it was the alt aria 'Es ist vollbracht' and soprano aria 'Zerfliesse mein Herze' which made the most profound impression.

  The Evangelist, who comments and weaves the single episodes, was well placed in his critical role in the story with his sonorous tenor. An impressing performance.

  The small well balanced baroque ensemble of 11 musicians made sure with their authentic instruments to provide a fine and faithful accompaniement to the vocal parts. The ensemble played without a conductor, but was lead by concertmaster Jonathan on baroque violin. Bach in hish high heaven would have been delighted for this uplifting concert.


Ole Josephsen Helsingør Dagblad, Wednesday April 11th 2007


Copenhagen Soloists