It’s always a great pleasure to get along and hear Devon Baroque, who define themselves as ‘the principal orchestra in the South West specialising in baroque and early classical music played on period instruments and in appropriate style’ – a thoroughly-well-deserved description they have worked incredibly hard to achieve over a good number of years – and one which few, if any of us would gainsay.
Two-year Bach plan
This latest event continued their two-year plan to include each of Bach’s Six Brandenburg Concertos in a concert, which already contained a variety of musical of different styles, and drawn not only from the Baroque, but also before, and somewhat later than this extremely productive, and fascinating period of musical history.
On this occasion, the orchestra had really pushed the boat out in terms of personnel, adding oboes/recorder, bassoon and horns to the line-up, as required for Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 1, and which also saw director and violinist Persephone Gibbs make outstanding use of her little violino piccolo, which provided some welcome assistance in negotiating the composer’s particularly high part, if played on a conventional instrument.
Extra sonority and tone colours
The extra sonority and tone colours offered by the extra wind players were put to good use, too, in providing such a mixed programme, where there was indeed something for everyone. That one piece didn’t quite come off on the day is unusual for such a proven high-calibre ensemble, but such can be the vagaries of a live performance.
In my book, and given that this wasn’t captured in perpetuity on a CD recording, the overall real sense of fun and enjoyment that simply oozed from the players on the stage throughout, more than made up for one small technical digression.
Meanwhile, the ensemble’s next – and final Brandenburg offering – is scheduled for this June, and will feature Concerto No 6.
You can read my full review of the present concert here at Seen and Heard International
Philip R Buttall
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