Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Finely-balanced baroque performance

READING Concert Hall provided the perfect venue for the recent Baroque concert, performed by Trevor Pinnock, harpsichordist, together with violinists Sophie Gent and Matthew Truscott with Jonathan Manson on bass viol and cello

Trevor Pinnock
Concert Hall, Reading
Friday, May 13

READING Concert Hall provided the perfect venue for the recent Baroque concert, performed by Trevor Pinnock, harpsichordist, together with violinists Sophie Gent and Matthew Truscott with Jonathan Manson on bass viol and cello.

Pinnock, respected worldwide as a virtuoso harpsichordist and conductor, pioneered performances on historical instruments, notably founding the English Concert in 1972.

During the evening, in which he performed as both soloist and continuo, he brought his outstanding musicianship and infectious enthusiasm for the Baroque repertoire to an appreciative and receptive audience.

The first half comprised a selection of Sonatas in Three and Four Parts by Henry Purcell. Throughout the movements, following a fast, slow, fast, slow format, all four musicians artfully conveyed an inherent sense of vigour and freedom alongside interludes of quiet stillness and graceful beauty.

Gent and Truscott’s delivery was finely-balanced, allowing the intricate dialogue between the upper parts, whether crisp and energetic as in the robust dotted figure of the opening of the A major sonata or sensuously antiphonal, heard in the final Adagio of the G minor, to be clearly understood.

Meanwhile, Manson’s distinctive tones on the Bass viol provided a supportive and fleet-footed foundation.

Some may have been surprised to hear Purcell’s rhythmic complexity and rich, chromatic harmonies conveying such a sense of inner passion. This was chamber music at its best; with such compelling music-making, enhanced by the intimate acoustics of the concert hall we were transfixed and could have been sitting in the courts of King James II himself.

The second half was an altogether more extrovert affair; with Manson now playing on cello and with Pinnock switching to chamber organ, the ensuing Handel and Corelli sonatas provided a lighter and more buoyant mood.

Trevor Pinnock’s solo pieces demonstrated an incredible dexterity and mastery of the instrument, none more so than in his exceptional rendition of the Handel Chaconne for Harpsichord.

To round off the evening we were treated to an encore, played by the whole ensemble; the very satisfying and sonorous Handel Passacaglia.

Review by Maureen Idowu

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