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Becker, Buxtehude
& Biber
"Grotesque and Amorous Music"

Dietrich Becker
(c1623-c1679) Sonata I à 3 in G major & III à 3 in A minor from "Musicalische Frühlings-Früchte" (1668); Sonata "a doi" (vln & v da G)
Dietrich Buxtehude
(c1637-1707) Sonata in C minor for violin, viola da gamba, and continuo, op 2 no. 4 (1696); Sonata à 3 in G major, BuxWV 271; "Singet dem Herrn"

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber
(1644-1704) Aria and Variations from Sonata III in F major (1681); Partia VI in D major, from "Harmonia Artificioso-Ariosa" (1693)

Musica Poetica London
Dorian Komanoff Bandy, Claudia Norz (violins) Kate Conway (cello/viola da gamba) Oliver-John Ruthven (harpsichord) with Philippa Murray (soprano),

St. John's Church, Lansdowne Crescent, London W11, 8th September 2011

Of the numerous invitations received from small groups new to us, the deciding factor whether to cover their concerts repertoire is repertoire above all.

Musica Poetica London, initially conceived to explore the rich, neglected 17th-century trio sonata repertoire, met my criterion and amply rewarded over three hours travelling for a lunchtime concert of rare 17C German chamber music. [We had previously been to St. John's (near Notting Hill) but once; for an enterprising contemporary music concert in 2009.]

An hour of glorious chamber music of this period was a rare pleasure, and it held the audience's attention, with increasingly enthusiastic appreciation as it proceeded. The composer Dietrich Becker has been little recorded (but q.v. a disc from this group's namesake, Musica Poetica Freiburg); a gap for this London group to remedy.

The other two were prolific, but I doubt if I had heard any of today's particular pieces before; they all demanded both sensibility and virtuosity from the musicians, who were not found wanting. It was good that the continuo was given with organ throughout; some groups vary that with harpsichord - Ruthven's sweet-sounding instrument packed into a small case for easy transportation. The core group was two violins with continuo, the programme interspersed with unaccompanied duos and one cantata; [hear Philippa Murray singing Handel].

Dorian Komanoff Bandy showed me afterwards the scores from which they played; facsimiles of the original publications, not easy to read, but they bring you closer to the composers and their times... This programme would be ideal for a first CD from Musica Poetica London, which I hope might be forthcoming in due course?

Peter Graham Woolf