Thursday 19 January 2017

Looking ahead: London Festival of Baroque Music

Baroque at the Edge
The theme of this year's London Festival of Baroque Music is Baroque at the Edge. The festival, which runs from 12 to 20 May 2017, celebrates the 450th anniversary of the birth of Monteverdi and the 250th anniversary of the death of Telemann, Monteverdi is represented by two of his major works, though Telemann is less favoured. Telemann's friend Handel is well represented with Handel's final oratorio.

Mining the Monteverdi theme, Vox Luminis and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra will perform Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 at St John's Smith Square. And L'Orfeo will be done in a semi-staging directed by Thomas Guthrie at St John's Smith Square, with Matthew Long in the title role, plus I Fagiolini and the English Cornett and Sackutt Ensemble, directed by Robert Hollingworth.

Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company, with Lucy Crowe and Tim Mead, will be performing music by CPE Bach and WF Bach, alongside Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, I am sure the Pergolesi will be wonderful but couldn't we have had something a little different, perhaps JS Bach's re-write? Still in a Bach vein, James O'Donnell directs the choir of Westminster Abbey and St James's Baroque in Bach's Mass in B minor at Westminster Abbey. Bach would be surprised at the size of the forces used and at the size of the venue, but it will be wonderful nonetheless.

A visit by the European Union Baroque is always a highlight and Lars Ulrik Mortensen directs them in the Harpsichord Concerto in A and the Wedding Cantata by Bach, plus arias and a concerto grosso by Handel. Handel's Jephtha closes the festival, with Nick Pritchard in the title role, and Stephen Layton conducting the Holst Singers and the Academy of Ancient Music.

In the vein of mixing things up, Jean Rondeau (harpsichord) and Thomas Dunford (lute), join with oriental percussionist Kyvan Chemirani to explore the meeting of European Baroque with traditional Persian music.

Other artists performing include harpsichordist Jean Rondeau, Elin Manahan Thomas and Florilegium, director Ashley Solomon, and Les Passions de l'Ame. The festival's young artist strand, Future Baroque, will be featuring Ensemble Moliere, Ensemble Hesperi, and Nathaniel Mander.

Full details from the London Festival of Baroque Music website.

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