|Eleanor Minney- photo Colourwhite Photography|
From Handel we heard three of his Nine German Arias, 'Süßer Blumen Ambraflocken' HWV204, 'Süße Stille, sanfte Quelle' HWV205 and 'Flammende Rose, Zierde der Erden' HWV210. These are some of Handel's few mature works setting his native German.
Most of the works we heard showed the way the composers used an obbligato violin to decorate, comment on and dialogue with the vocal line, but the aria 'Öffne dich, mein ganzes Herze' had no violin part and instead gave the cello a measure of independence. In the second movement of Bach's violin sonata we heard a different type of obbligato, here Bach used the term to indicate that the harpsichord part was fully written out rather than using figured bass, and in fact Bach effectively gives us a trio sonata with the harpsichord playing two of the parts.
Eleanor Minney sang with clear, plangent tones bringing a nice flexibility to the sometimes elaborate vocal lines, finely complemented by Davina Clarke's violin playing. But what made the performances special was that the players gave us a real sense of chamber music, with a fine interaction between all four of them with each line involving in its own way yet part of a satisfying whole. And it was striking hearing the music in such an intimate setting with just four performers.