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The Boston Globe



Songs of austerity bloom into splendor at Jordan Hall

On Friday, the Cantata Singers and Ensemble — coming into a pair of anniversaries, this season being David Hoose's 30th directing the group, next season the group's 50th overall — offered an ample but superbly performed program built around two of the repertoire that gave them their name, J. S. Bach's sacred cantatas. The concert also hinted at why the cantatas might have found Boston such an amenable second home in the first place: Both the music and the playing squared the circle of Puritan rectitude and musical pleasure. It was an evening of extravagant austerity.

Bach's “Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost” (BWV 114) opened with dark clouds — orchestral squalls and choral gusts — but the rest was hopefully lavish, equating earthly crisis with redemptive opportunity. Tenor William Hite navigated the valley of darkness with Jacqueline DeVoe's sinuous flute as a guide; alto Krista River regarded death in melodic turns serenely dancing between major and minor. Hoose conducted with a stately cadence punctuated by sweeping expression, giving harmonies or turns of phrase enough time to bloom into splendor.

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