Thomas Wikman Reviews
Baroque Offers An Evening Of Mighty Music
Chicago Tribune Sunday, November 8, 1998
by Dan Tucker, Special to the Tribune
Fine performers make music sound better - that's obvious enough - but the reverse is true too: Genuinely great music, such as Bach's "Mass in B Minor," makes its performers outdo themselves. And when they are as good to start with as the singers and players of Music of Baroque, the result is dazzling.
For the Performance Thursday at Evanston's First United Methodist Church - the first of four - conductor Thomas Wikman put together eight solo singers, a chorus and an orchestra all able to meet Bach's gigantic challenge. They did not merely perform the music, they combined with it, and the result was an evening of mighty music.
From the opening "Kyrie" - six words of text which Bach built into 15 minutes of musical wonder - it was clear that this performance would be out of the ordinary.
Each section of the 36-member choir entered with its own focus and color. Sopranos, altos, tenors and basses all had separate personalities, distinguishable even when singing. The full chorus was not so much a blending of sounds as a joining of forces for an immensely powerful effect.
One test of a choir is how clearly it can bring out the rapid running passages typical of baroque music. These singers articulated the weaving lines as clearly as a string quartet could.