This Passion by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was announced as conducted by Mark Padmore and that was not fully true. Maybe he conducted during the rehearsals, maybe the idea and conception of the performance was his but he was not conducting anything during the public performance. It’s ok to have a chamber orchestra without conductor, and many baroque ensembles rely on the continuo players to get tempi indications and attacks.
Just two days after the Mozart and Haydn concert The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was back in a smaller form (one instrument per part) but equally great in quality. The programme was build around virtuoso keyboard concerti from Handel and Bach: Op. 4 No. 1 and Op. 7 No. 5 from the former (organ) and Brandenburg No. 5 from the former. That was a short programme without intermission but with some other perks: an revealing pre-concert talk by Crispin Woodhead about the keyboard improvisation practice and a Q&A session with the orchestra before the audience chose the encore (spoiler, Bach won).
Some weeks before the usual Easter performances of Bach passions we had an interesting proposal from the BBC Signers: the UK premiere of Mendelssohn edition of Bach Matthäus-Passion. Coming from a choir and directed by a choral conductor the stress of this performance was more in the choral side than in the orchestral one, which was relegated to the circumstantial band St. James’ Baroque. This was a pity because the biggest differences with the original version, other than cuts, were on the orchestral side, with some bass line significant changes.
My last concert of the year was a rather disappointing one. Perhaps I had very high expectation on Concerto Italiano or perhaps my last live Bach’s Musical Offer was too good (Lina Tur, Alexis Kossenko, Marco Testori and Kenneth Weiss). Since the beginning, the Trio Sonata BWV 1039 and canons BWV 1087, I had the feeling that all musicians from Concerto Italiano (a reduced 5 part ensemble) were sad. It was not only they were been serious, concentrated of deep into the music, no, they was sadness on the stage.
This performance was on the top of my list for the winter season. I was interested on “Solomon’s Knot take on Bach’s Mass in B minor for several reasons. Authenticity was not really one of them, not because the small ensemble did not match the monumental writing of the work because there is no really authentic way of perform this piece. I was mostly curious about the idea of singing this work from memory and without a conductor.
There were two different performances of Bach Christmas Oratorio in London the same day at the same time: London Philharmonic Orchestra with Jurowski at Royal Festival Hall and Dunedin Consort with John Butt at Wigmore Hall. My choice was the later, because I believe that this work is better presented in a HIP way and because I really wanted to listen to Dunedin Consort after having enjoyed very much their recording of Bach passions.
I got attracted by this programme at St John’ Smith Square as soon as I saw it on the listing. The idea of traveling from early to late baroque using different settings of the same text Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme was really appealing to me. And then I looked at the performers and though: “hey, the Choir of King’s College! They are good. I have many recordings featuring them”.
This is the concert of the year I’m going to miss more. Wait! Why are you reviewing something that you have missed? Actually I went to the concert, but I had to leave before Pachelbel gorgeous cantata Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt because I was feeling real sick. And I was really sick: 35C degrees is not a good thing as body temp. So this micro-review is to stand that I really loved how Vox Luminis performed Pachelbel cantata, how they played with sound locations around the stage (what an antiphonal singing!
This was a nice concert by The English Concert. Despite having children singing. I grow up in a post-Harnoncourt world where boys choirs to do HIP church baroque music was already demodé. Until I came to Britain where, by default, if nothing else is said, choirs haven children. Robert Quinney did a wonderful work not only conducting all the pieces but also introducing them to the audience with some humor.
Disclaimer: I already loved Fretwork vision of Bach’s The Art of Fugue. Several years ago I got this very cheap CD with the Harmonia Mundi catalogue: and felt in love with it. Nowadays is mostly agreed that Bach did The Art of Fugue as a intellectual exercise for composers/music students. It was intended as a study work not as a concert work. So the question “in which instrument(s) should it be played?
It’s a rather cool idea to pick a painting from the National Gallery, build a music programme around it and perform that music just in front of it. For free. The painting chosen for this opening concert was Assunzione della Vergine (The Assumption of the Virgin) by Francesco Botticini The music was Bach cello suite No.6, G.Sollima Concerto Rotondo for violoncello and live electronics and Colombi Ciaccona for violoncello and loop, played by Mario Brunello.