Finns Ain’t What they Used To Be, Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, Wigmore Hall, 6 January 2018

OK, this baroque concert didn’t really have that dreadful pun as its title – but it did have a tongue-in cheek humour to it, certainly in the first half, which was dedicated to Telemann’s work.

Here is a link to the programme and basic information from the Wigmore Hall site.

Both of the Telemann pieces are relative rarities, new to the ears even of Telemaniacs like me and Janie:

  • Ouverture burlesque in B flat major TWV55:B8
  • Trauer-Music eines kunsterfahrenen Canarienvogels (Canary Cantata) TWV20:37

The Helsinki Baroque is a very together orchestra; seemingly a group of dedicated musicians who enjoy playing with and riffing off each other. We suspect that Aapo Häkkinen is metaphorically “gentle yet strong glue” for this Finnish combo.

Carolyn Sampson was the soprano for the evening. She stood right in front of us and sang magnificently.

The Canary Cantata – in full “Cantata of Funeral Music For An Artistically-Trained Canary Whose Demise Brought the Greatest Sorrow to his Master”, really is a most unusual piece.

Click here (or the embedded YouTube below) for a recording of a young American soprano, MaryRuth Lown, singing the piece;

My so-called friends who thought my German singing sounded like Yiddish in my Innsbruck Ich Muss Dich Lassen performance the other week should click through and hear this aria.

Gresham Society Soirée, Barnards Inn Hall, 14 December 2017

It begins with the following line oft-repeated:

O weh! mein Canarin ist tot

…which means, for those who need a translation into lingua franca…

Oy vay! in drerd mein feygele.

…but I’m diving too deep into detail. Actually if you want to read the whole cantata in English, click through the YouTube link above (not the embedded vid) as a full translation is there on YouTube. Weirdorama lyrics.

The second half of the concert was more “regular” in terms of familiarity and style, but still hugely interesting and enjoyable. J S Bach for this half:

  • Concerto in D major for harpsichord BWV1054 (from Violin Concerto in E major BWV1042)
  • Cantata: Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen BWV51

I don’t think I had heard that concerto with the harpsichord as lead instrument before; I have recordings of it on violin and piano.

The cantata was spectacularly good; Carolyn Sampson on top form, as was Nicholas Emmerson on baroque trumpet, going red in the face trying to get such a complex string of notes out at pace on that challenging instrument.

The encore was a complete change of mood, from the jubilant Bach “Jauchzet Gott” cantata to the mournful Handel “Eternal Source Of Light Divine” cantata.

The encore was also a triumph; albeit a calming one rather than an uplifting one. Here is a YouTube of Iestyn Davies singing it:

All in all, it was a wonderful gig; a delicious start to the year for our concert going.

I cannot find a YouTube of Carolyn Sampson with the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, nor of that orchestra performing any of the pieces we heard, but the following YouTube gives a feel for that orchestra’s work at that scale (16 or so members) on a work of that period with a fine soprano…

…while the following is a YouTube of Carolyn Sampson with a different super orchestra – The Sixteen:

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