Wednesday 25 September 2013

Rubies for the English Concert

The English Concert - photo credit Richard Haughton
The English Concert's 2013/14 season is their 40th anniversary, so its rubies all round. They celebrate in fine style with music by all the baroque greats as well as some lesser known names, performed by such luminaries as Sonia Prina, Roberta Invernizzi, Lucy Crowe, Rosemary Joshua, Sarah Connolly and Sally Matthews, and a return of their founder Trevor Pinnock. The concerts travel widely, with performances in Gateshead, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, Hereford amongst others in addition to those in London. For me the highlight has to be the performances of Handel's Theodora with Rosemary Joshua and Sarah Connolly

The season opens on 1 October with music by Bach, Corelli, Vivaldi and Handel performed by soprano Katherine Watson and Mark Bennett on trumpet, though you will have to be in Warwick or Liverpool to hear it as the programme is not coming to London. The group returns to London's Wigmore Hall on 15 October, directed by their founder Trevor Pinnock, performing Handel Concerto Grossos, Bach's Harpsichord Concerto in D minor and one of Vivaldi's concertos from La Stravaganza. The programme also travels to Herford (18/10) and Greenwich (9/11)

Soprano Sally Matthews joins the group for an all Mozart programme, with bassoonist Alberto Grazzi featuring as soloist in Mozart's Bassoon Concerto in B flat (20/11). The group close the year in traditional style with a performance of Handel's Messiah, with soloists Mary Bevan, Jennifer Johnstone, Joshua Ellicott and Ben Bevan, with Harry Bicket conducting, at Christ Church Spitalfields as part of the Spitalfields Winter Music (16/12)

2014 starts with a bang as they perform Handel's penultimate oratorio Theodora, with a strong cast of soloists, Rosemary Joshua, Sarah Connolly, Tim Mead, Andrew Kennedy and Neal Davies. They will be joined by the choir of Holy Trinity Wall Street. (6/2, in Birmingham, 8/2, at the Barbican)

Lawrence Cumings directs the group in a programme which sets the music of Bach against that of his son, CEP Bach and that of Telemann, who was CPE Bach's godfather. (25/3, Wigmore Hall, 26/3, Birmingham). Bernard Labadi then directs the group in an all Italian programme, with Vivaldi's lovely Stabat Mater twinned with Pergolesi's perennial (over-exposed?) Stabat Mater, with a superb pairing of soloists, soprano Roberta Invernizzi and mezzo-soprano Sonia Prina. (15/5, Gateshead, 16/4, Bristol, 17/4 Wigmore Hall).

The season rounds off in fine style with more Handel, this time the wonderful Lucy Crowe singing music that Handel wrote whilst he was in Italy, including cantatas plus arias from his opera Agrippina, interspersed with Vivaldi's Four Seasons (21/5). Is it possible to have too much of the Four Seasons? Discuss.

Further information from the English Concert website. Also Archiv has released a rather terrific 11 CD boxed set of Trevor Pinnock's Handel recordings with the English Concert, see the ad below.

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