Biber, Buxtehude, Schmelzer and Kühnel, Arcangelo, Wigmore Hall, 5 May 2017

We like these “Wigmore Late” concerts at 22:00 on a Friday evening. With the flat so close to “The Wig”, we can enjoy a home cooked meal and mosey on down at leisure.

Sometimes too much at leisure – we have on occasions relaxed into the evening so much that we’ve suddenly realised that we need to get a shift on…

…but not this evening.

For those readers who simply want to know what we saw – here is a link to the Wigmore Hall stub on this delicious concert. Those who want to know more, including information on the delicious food, read on.

As I have a freezer drawer full of (now lamented) Big Al’s wonderful pasta sauces from Tavola, we had a pasta supper (Al’s amazing veal and spinach meatballs in tomato sauce, with tagliatelle) before heading off in good time to The Wig.

We recognised most/all of the Arcangelo performers, although I don’t think we have seen Arcangelo as an ensemble before. For sure we had seen Jonathan Manson, the viola da gamba player, before, not least in a lovely 2009 concert I wrote up only a couple of weeks ago.

We had also recently seen and very much noticed the young theorbo player, Thomas Dunford, with Les Arts Florissants, which I wrote up – here.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence – with thanks – http://collection.sciencemuseum.org.uk/objects/co5900/theorbo

Yes, I know that the Wigmore Hall stub (and programme) suggests that Thomas Dunford was playing a lute, but believe me, it was a theorbo.

Indeed, having had my very first baroq-ulele lesson with Ian Pittaway on Wednesday, I was studying Dunford’s work like a connoisseur. A mixture of thumb-inside and thumb-outside playing, with some trill and rasgueado-looking stuff thrown in. Not sure he quite anchors his hand comprehensively, but then that would make playing the whole range of strings on a theorbo a lit of a challenge.

I also found myself fascinated by Dunford’s instrument straps; one for the shoulder (as recommended and now work in progress for my baroq-ulele), but also an additional one upon which he sits for extra support.

Mercifully, I didn’t let all of that geeky stuff detract from my enjoyment of the wonderful music.

The leader, Jonathan Cohen, introduced and discussed the pieces/composers masterfully. He isn’t a charismatic showman, but he comes across as very knowledgeable, very pleasant and inclusive of the other performers, which Janie and I liked. At one point, for example, he invited Sophie Gent to explain the techniques she was using to embellish the relatively simple parts that composers wrote down in that earlier baroque period. She explained herself very well.

Ahead of the Kühnel sonata, Jonathan Manson showed us the detailed craftsmanship of his viola da gamba. He explained that August Kühnel spent some time in England to study music around the time that Manson’s viola da gamba was being made, so Kühnel might have actually seen that beautiful instrument being crafted.

The music in this concert was very beautiful. I liked all of it, but found the Schmelzer sonatae especially appealing and moving; so much so that I plan to invest in a decent recording of them – perhaps the one linked here – advice in the next few days would be appreciated.

After the concert, the Wigmore Hall had arranged for some jazz in the bar, as they have done in the past but they had (or have not yet) not promoted that idea yet this season. Unsurprisingly, very few people stuck around, but we did, enjoying some 1950’s style jazz piano over a glass.

Janie and I were pleased to see the Arcangelo performers all supporting that jazz initiative after their gig. It also gave us a chance to congratulate Jonathan Cohen in person.

Arcangelo is a relatively new, young early music group; they are very talented and they deserve to do well. For sure, we’ll be looking out for them again.

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