Christmas isn’t Christmas without Messiahand “Easter isn’t Easter without Bach,” as Bach Akademie Australia board member Wendy McLeod said. Founder and Artistic Director Madeleine Easton leads an ensemble of 12 instrumentalists and eight singers in Alleluja ,an Easter narrative of music that expresses the anguish of death and the ecstasy of resurrection in the way that only Johann Sebastian Bach can.

Madeleine Easton leads Bach Akademie Australia at Alleluja – An Easter Celebration. Photograph supplied

Before Easter, there is the crucifixion. The opening cantata, Christ lag in Todes Banden (Christ lay in the bonds of death), BWV 4takes us there. With the voice-doubling brass instruments omitted, the orchestra plays the brief Sinfonia,articulating the recurring, crushing semitone motif, expressing twisting pain, anguish, and the absolute depths of desolation. Easton pauses on the tierce de picardiethat closes this movement, moving from minor to major key, before the sopranos begin their cantus firmusof Verse 1. This is a celebratory chorus, which incongruously contains the title words. The sopranos begin with a slow and steadfast line, which moves to busily contracting...