High to the ceiling

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

Peter Dürrfeld (Kristeligt Dagblad, 5 December, 2012)

4 stars

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.

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