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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