Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Rachel Podger
Andrew Clark Roger Montgomery (horns)

Queen Elizabeth Hall, 22 May 2006

Giovanni Paolo Cima Sonata
Giovanni Legrenzi Sonata for four violins and basso continuo
Antonio Vivaldi Concerto in B minor for 4 violins, RV.580 (Op.3 No.10)
Alessandro Stradella Sonata di viole
Arcangelo Corelli Concerto grosso in B flat, Op.6 No.11
Francesco Geminiani Concerto grosso in D minor after Corelli, Op.5 No.12 'La follia

Pre-concert Talk A Violinist's Paradise:
Rachel Podger looking at the violin's pre-eminent place in the Italian Baroque.

The informality of Rachel Podger's illustrated talk was particularly engaging, enhanced by perfect radio-mike enhancement, which made you feel she was chatting to friends in an intimate space (clearly the OAE's educational outreach work figured - this programme had benefitted from 3 days working on it at Dartington). Famous names apart, she introduced us to the more obscure composers of the first Sonata (Cima's of 1610) and one of the the first Concerti Grosso (Stradella's; a composer whose sexual appetites got him deservedly assassinated).

QEH can be a difficult listening environment (Rachel asked us to imagine we were in St Mark's at Venice!) and seat prices can be delusory. Ours were in the middle of the front rows of the back stalls, from where the chamber pieces with continuo sounded paradoxically better, though the theorbo, always an adornment in early music events, was nearly inaudible.

The bigger pieces made less impact than might be, and the first half finished unhappily; Andrew Clark told us that this was to be the harder of Vivaldi's two concertos for two natural horns; they might better have chosen the easier one... One's expectations of intonation and reliability are raised unreasonably by the unreal perfection of patched digital recordings.

Moving forward to be nearer the players, the music in the second half was more vivid, and the concert augurs well for the OAE's five-year project to explore the Baroque styles of different European countries.

Some of the music was to be played again afterwards in the Foyer - with free beer for the younger audience which OAE is trying to woo with their "sexy" advertising photos! (See the report by Classical Source's late night reviewer!)


© Peter Grahame Woolf