Friday 18 November 2016

Celebrating Arcangelo's residency at the Wigmore Hall

Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo
Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo
On Wednesday 16 November 2016, we attended a private event to celebrate Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo's forthcoming residency at the Wigmore Hall. The group's first Wigmore Hall concert is on 14 December 2016 when they will be performing Bach's cantatas Christ lag in Todesbanden BWV4 and Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit BWV106 'Actus Tragicus', and Telemann's cantata Du aber Daniel, gehe hin TWV4:17.

At Wednesday's event Jonathan Cohen introduced their Wigmore Hall programme and performed a selection of pieces with recorder player Rebecca Miles. Rebecca gave us the opportunity to hear a selection of different recorders whilst playing music by Frescobaldi, a Telemann fantasia for unaccompanied recorder and a Bach flute sonata.

Jonathan explained how Arcangelo's 14 December concert does not look forward to Christmas, but rather picks up on the penitential nature of Advent by performing mourning cantatas. Bach's Actus Tragicus features the relatively unusual combination of two recorders and two viola da gambas. This is an instrumental combination which rather looks backward and creates an extraordinary sound world, and as the recorder in music is often associated with death links to the work's references to peaceful sleep. Jonathan also commented that Bach's often cantatas make the players work hard, with the solo instrumental moments hard to play well. The sense of a particular quality of sound applies to another work in the programme, Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 with its combination of two violas, two violas da gamba, cello, violone and harpsichord. The programme also includes something rather more unusual with Telemann's cantata Du aber Daniel, gehe hin

Looking ahead, the group returns to the Wigmore Hall on 13 January 2017 for a programme of Bach harpsichord concertos with Kristian Bezuidenhout, who is recording the complete Bach harpsichord concertos with Arcangelo, and then on 5 May 2017, Jonathan Cohen (harpsichord), Sophie Gent (violin), Jonathan Manson (viola da gamba) and Thomas Dunford (lute) will be performing a programme of Biber, Schmelzer and Buxtedhude at one of the Wigmore Hall Late evenings.

There followed a lively discussion which covered subjects such as the issue of taste in ornamentation in baroque music, modern versus period recorder playing styles and the question of different temperaments. This latter discussion, referencing how the recorder player had to adapt to whatever temperament the harpsichord was tuned in, let to a fascinating demonstration when the harpsichord tuner (who was present at the event), tuned the same D major chord to two different temperaments, one on each harpsichord manual, so that we could hear the very real difference between them.

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