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Sunday April 22, 2007

Baroque balm


EUROPEAN BRANDENBURG ENSEMBLE
April 16
Dewan Filharmonik Petronas 

IT’S always good to hear classics but what is even better is seeing the best musicians come together to deliver an outstanding performance of 300-year-old music. 

The European Brandenburg Ensemble (pic), newly set up last year, brought just this kind of nostalgia to the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas on Monday. 

Led by British conductor/harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock (for whom the ensemble was formed), the musicians are a combination of the best of the European baroque music community and come from such ensembles as the English Concert Orchestra, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Il Giardino Armonico.  

The 100-minute concert featured pretty much standard baroque repertoire and familiar classics from composers like George Frederic Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and Henry Purcell. 

Indeed, the musicians played many of the popular tunes from that era and most of the 700 or so people who filled the hall probably had their favourite covered by the time the night was through!  

These days, baroque musicians actually try to stick to authentic instruments as far as possible. In Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.1 for instance, the violin solo is played on a violino piccolo while the horns used throughout the concert are known as corni di caccia, an older form of French horns. 

The Ensemble’s repertoire for the night comprised Handel’s Water Music Suite, Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin and Strings, Il Grosso Mogul with violin soloist Kati Debretzeni and Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor (BWV1052). 

Purcell’s Suite from The Fairy Queen featured in the second half, and in keeping with the name of the ensemble a performance of at least one of Bach’s famed Brandenburg Concertos was a must, of course. 

The ensemble ended the concert with the 1st Concerto in F (BWV1046), with soloist Nadja Zwiener on the violino piccolo. 

Indeed, with such authentic interpretation, the more discerning concert-goer would have been well delighted with the earthy yet intimate collaboration. 

Despite their diversity, the musicians were wonderfully in tune with each other, particularly in the oboes and bassoon section. 

This performance certainly gave the crowd a taste of what it was like for smaller audiences to sit back and enjoy music all those years ago.  

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