New festival in town: Baroque at the edge. Quite attractive programme focused on providing not-so-usual experiences and blending genres. This recital by the Italian violagambista Paolo Pandolfo was a perfect fitting for the festival. Not only he is one of the most exquisite and sensitive gamba players nowadays but he also is interested on crossing repertoires. The recital had no printed programme, just Paolo talking about what he was playing: a series of improvisations from a renaissance melody shaping into a well known piece for gamba, a couple of works on their own and another two new works by Pandolfo based on this way or improvising.
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 concert was a lovely collaboration between the Royal College of Music and the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg bringing together students from both institutions. The programme was entirely devoted to Telemann music. The ensemble shaped its size from small to large scale, having professor Ashley Solomon as conductor only for the later. The concert opened with the Overture-Suite TVW 55:E3 that was very well played with professor Solomon conducting and playing the flute a couple of times.
Christophe Rousset was replacing the initially announced Ivor Bolton as conductor of this concert performance of Handel Semele. What a good deal! Rousset had already done this oratorio/opera in Paris and he has nicely evolved from a harpsichordist to I-conduct-my-own-period-instruments-ensemble to I-conduct-at-any-opera-house. So he brought all of this to this night: very good continuo sense, experience with HIP orchestras and full staged opera productions. Seen Rousset conducting with the hands, with energetic and fast movements is a delightful experience.
Xavier Sabata was an actor before becoming a singer. That’s why role characterization is one of the strongest points of his performances. London baroque scene was excited about seeing him live at Wigmore Hall: to enjoy not only his beautiful voice but also his acting (yes, even in a recital). Programme was comprised by arias from his latest recording Catharsis and he was accompanied by the same baroque ensemble that in the recording: Armonia Atenea directed by George Petrou
Paul O’Dette forms together with Jakob Lindberg and Hopkinson Smith the first golden generation of early music lute players. This lunchtime recital at Wigmore Hall was not a generic lute greatest hits or baroque lute showcase but focused on English lute music. It was, however, rich and varied enough to please not only connoisseurs. It ranged from harpsichord adaptations (Byrd) to original lute compositions (Johnson, Dowland and Bacheler). It was also varied in forms, with the nice contrasts between pavans and galliards.
Nearly 500 public concerts a year. That is the amazing figure the Royal Academy of Music achieves. Setting the public performance as a goal early in students career is critical to their success. The programme for the concert titles Battles was a good mix of music featuring trumpets, conetti and sackbuts from well known baroque composers (Purcell, Biber, Handel) and some more obscure ones (Fantini, Eccles, Croft, Susato). For a kind of monographic concert around war music it was perfectly balanced in all senses: known vs.
A remark before anything else: what’s going on with Erato hair stylists for their baroque artists? Said that, the concert. If you look at the promotional picture used for this Prom (see above) you will see more than 20 players but when Il Pomo d’oro entered the stage… surprise! they are only 6 players! Probably one of the strengths of this ensemble is the versatility and that has allowed it to become one of the most successful baroque ensembles in the world in less than five years.
I got yesterday my new skateboards-based rating system. You should be able to see it above these lines. This was an 8 out of 10 skateboards concert. This late concert started with 3 cantatas by Schütz that are like a primitive version of the full German cantata (hey Bach, hey Telemann). They inherit directly from Monteverdi style but introduce innovations on the orchestra writing. And this was the first strong point of this concert: how Gardiner managed to mix the wonderful Monteverdi Choir with the orchestra as a very close layer.
First, I need to start rating concerts. Everyone is about seeing the rating and don’t reading much more about it. Instead of using the classic 5 star rating system I am gonna use a 10 skateboard system because, you know, skateboards rock. I just need to figure out how to put that on this blog thing. In the mean time let’s say it: this concert was a 7 out of 10 skateboards.