Monday 7 March 2022

Between the Land and the Sea: London Festival of Baroque Music celebrates Venice

Canaletto, Ceremony of the Easter Mass in San Marco, showing the choir in the pulpitum magnum cantorum
Canaletto, Ceremony of the Easter Mass in San Marco,
showing the choir in the pulpitum magnum cantorum
The 38th London Festival of Baroque Music is back at St John's Smith Square from 13 to 21 May 2022. Under the title Between the Land and the Sea the festival this year celebrates the musical currents sweeping across Venice.

The festival opens in grand style as Paul McCreesh and Gabrieli, in their 40th anniversary season, return to A Venetian Coronationwith music by both Gabrielis and many more in grand style. And still with celebration on a large scale, the Choir of Westminster Abbey, conductor James O'Donnell and St James's Baroque perform Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610.

On a more intimate scale, mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston and lutenist Toby Carr perform songs by the Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi plus Owain Parke's Battle Cry which Charlston and Carr premiered in 2021. A programme devised by Croatian-born Bojan Čičić of the Illyria Consort, unearths the rarely-heard early baroque works of the Adriatic Coast in present-day Croatia, once part of the Venetian Republic, a feast of rare composers presented with the Marian Consort.

Influences on Venetian composers and their influence on later composers are celebrated and explored by the Gesualdo Six, who look at the long Venetian legacy of Josquin des Prez through works by Adrian Willaert and Gioseffo Zarlino, whilst Siglo de Oro and Patrick Allies celebrate the influence of Franco-Flemish late Renaissance composer Orlando di Lasso on his pupils Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli. Then The Brook Street Band and tenor David de Winter explore the solo cantatas of Heinrich Schütz, who spent extended periods in Venice studying with Giovanni Gabrieli.

Other performers include Adrian Butterfield and the Brook Street Band, cellist Erlend Vestby in Bach's Cello Suites, Southbank Sinfonia and Julian Perkins in Handel's Water Music, pianist Joanna Macgregor in Bach's Goldberg Variations. and James Johnstone in organ works by Buxtehude.

And the festival ends with violinist Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque in a programme of concertos by that perfect Venetian, Antonio Vivaldi.

Full details from the St John's Smith Square website.

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