“Baroque Fireworks!” - Eden Baroque with Mary Tyers 3rd November 2019
The Music Room at Dufton House is rapidly becoming one of my favourite music venues. This November concert took place on a chilly evening, but there was a warm atmosphere in the Music Room as Katharine (harpsichord) and Michael (violin and baritone) conspired with period flautist Mary Tyers to put on display of Baroque fireworks.
The centrepiece was an arrangement of Handel’s famous Music for the Royal Fireworks, which came off well thanks to its predominantly trio sonata texture and some skilfully wrought abridgements. Throughout the programme, which featured pieces chosen for their fire-related texts, harvest-time connotations, or their instrumental and vocal pyrotechnics, the playing and singing was of a superb standard: there were wonderful communication and dialogue between the performers in Handel’s Trio Sonata, Op. 2, No. 1 in B minor and Jean-Marie Leclair’s Deuxieme Recreation de Musique and other pieces, and beautifully emotive singing from Michael, especially in Campion’s Fire! Fire! and Robert Johnson’s Full Fathom Five. Other highlights were Mary’s magisterial rendition of the fiendishly unrelenting Badinerie from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 and Katharine’s nuanced delivery of D. Scarlatti’s Sonata in A, K. 24, in which she carried off the sweeping arpeggios and lightning-fast scalic passages with effortless poise.
There was humour aplenty as well: Michael relishing the opportunity to sing Purcell’s “Your Hay it is Mow’d” (King Arthur) and adding a foot-added tambourine to his impressive ability to play and sing simultaneously, which lent further excitement to the “Tambourin” in Leclair’s Deuxieme Recreation. Other highlights were the beautifully judged performance of “Chaconne” from the same piece, in which the players preserved the dancing feeling of Leclair’s music, the selection from Handel’s Acis and Galatea, and the opportunity to hear Telemann’s Trio Sonata in G minor, TWV 42, another persuasive plea on behalf of a sometimes under-appreciated composer.
Fine hospitality was also provided, and the concert was punctuated with informative and often highly amusing readings and anecdotes. A wonderful and very warming way to spend this first Sunday evening in November - and well worth the trouble of the drive!