Out of the Shadows

Monday, 11 April 2011

OAE at Kings Place

To Kings Place on Saturday for the concert by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as part of their 5 day Baroque Contrasted season. The concert was called A Restoration Spectacular, though the only Restoration music was Purcell's The Fairy Queen, the remaineder was from the later Baroque, but who cares when presented with such a lovely string of masterpieces.

First on the agenda was Handel's Concerto Grosso Opus 6 No. 10, in a fine muscular performance led from the violin by Matthew Truscott. There were 16 musicians on stage, just strings, theorbo and harpsichord; rather strikingly of the 16, only 3 were men.

After the Handel we got a long sequence of movements from Purcell's Fairy Queen, the highlights of which was Julia Doyle's exquisite singing of See, even the Nightingale, and I am come to lock all fast and The Plaint. Singing with a fine, pure tone, Doyle's account of these 3 was magical.

The second half opened with Bach's Double Violin Concerto played by Truscott and Alison Bury. This had its beautiful moments, though the outer movements sometimes seemed a little too brisk for their own good. More worryingly the balance between the two violins was less than equal, with Bury playing with a far more muscular, weighty tone. This wasn't some much a question of volume as style and weight and I have to confess that I preferred Bury's approach.

Finally Doyle returned for 3 beautifully turned Handel arias, Ombre pallide from Alcina, Ritorna, o caro from Rodelinda and Da Tempeste from Giulio Cesare. Doyle's slim tones negotiated the passage-work with ease, creating some beautiful and moving moments. She included the recitative which prefixes Ombre pallide which was welcome. I did worry about the lack of wind instruments, though without referring to the scores I am not sure what Handel actually wrote for these arias. Finally we were treated to an encore from Rinaldo. A treat all round.

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