Catharsis, Xavier Sabata, Armonia Atenea & George Petrou, Wigmore Hall, 9 October 2017

Our Daisy is partial to a bit of countertenor singing and this Wigmore Hall concert looked a bit different and interesting, so I booked it.

We quite like Monday night concerts at The Wig, not least because they are a darned good excuse (not that we need excuses) to take a Monday off.

Goodness knows where the Monday went…indeed where the whole weekend went, but there you go.

Here is a link to the Wigmore Hall resource on the concert.

It started with a rather jazzed up version of one of Vivaldi’s well-known concerti. We thought the whole concert might be jazzed up, but in truth only that first piece was.

Then enter the countertenor, Xavier Sabata, who is a rather big and fearsome looking chap. Very dramatic delivery style. Wonderful voice.

The ensemble is Greek, of course, but Xavier Sabata is Catalan. He looked as though he might make a unilateral declaration of independence any moment and frankly no-one in the hall looked able to stop him if he were to do so.

Daisy got the sense that the ensemble were not in the best of moods, either with each other or their situation. That certainly didn’t reflect in their playing, which was excellent. Perhaps it was the multiple encores at the end that bothered them and left Daisy with that sense; George and Xavier might well have gone on for an extra half hour were it not for the Wigmore Hall aficionados calling time after the second encore.

It turns out that this line-up has recently recorded an album named Catharsis, basically a collection of these full-tilt countertenor arias.

Here (or the image) links to Catharsis on Amazon – other retailers are available.

Much as we very much enjoyed the concert, we weren’t motivated to buy the album, but it would be a good way to hear what this beautiful music sounds like if you weren’t at the concert.

Erica Jeal in the Guardian reviewed the album – here.

David Vickers reviewed the album in Gramaphone – here.

Barry Creasy on www.musicomh.com gave the concert a superb review – here.

We ate light after the concert, back at the flat; open smoked salmon sandwiches and a very jolly bottle of Austrian Riesling. Nothing baroque about the supper…unlike the delicious concert.

La Nuova Musica, St John’s Smith Square, 20 March 2015

This was a lovely concert at St John’s Smith Square, on a Friday evening. Just what the doctor ordered.

SJSS is a good setting for all manner of music, but especially sacred music like Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater could have been written for the place.

Janie is especially partial to a bit of Stabat Mater of the Pergolesi variety, which is probably why we booked this one. That and the fact that it was on a Friday evening, a favourite slot of ours for some truly relaxing music.

This concert was a great way to start the weekend after a busy week.

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Xenia Löffler, Wigmore Hall, 6 February 2015

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin…but in Berlin!

We have been keen on the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin for many years now after first seeing them at the Wigmore Hall yonks ago – March 2001 – and then several times since. We even went to see them when we were in Berlin – see above and click here for the Ogblog piece.

As for Jean-Guihen Queyras, I shall forever associate him with our trip to Burgundy in 2008, in particular the day we visited the Bresse services to taste their coveted Poulet-de-Bresse (possibly the best service station dish in the world) and then on to Bourg-en-Bresse where by chance I bought, amongst other music, Queyras’s recording of the Bach Cello Suites – click here for Ogblog of that trip… 

…or here to a link for that wonderful Bach Cello Suites recording, which I still listen to quite often, indeed I am listening to it as I type…

…but I digress…

Click here for a link to the stub for the delightful Wigmore Hall concert we went to see on 6 February 2015.

These work wonderfully for us on a Friday evening, as long as we are sufficiently disciplined to stop working early enough and get to The Wig without a rush; on this occasion we were.

The concert was mostly Vivaldi, with one religious Caldara work thrown in for good measure. Not only were the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and Jean-Guihen Queyras superb (we were expecting plenty), but also Xenia Löffler – principal oboe for the Akademie – was also excellent.

Janie and I both loved this concert too.

Scottish Ensemble, Wigmore Hall Coffee Concert, 17 October 2010

We fancied this concert, which melded Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with Piazolla’s Four Seasons Of Buenos Aires.

So despite its scheduling in the Sunday coffee morning slot, which throws our tennis plans awry, we gave it a try.

A different, wrinkly audience on a Sunday morning. Some perhaps as keen on the gratis coffee (or a glass of sherry if you prefer) as the music.

The music was performed serviceably (I think we’ve heard the Piazolla Seasons done with more flare since) and we were glad to have experienced the Wiggy Coffee morning thing…but it isn’t really our type of gig.

Pergolesi And Vivaldi, Florilegium, Wigmore Hall, 23 May 2010

A simply delightful concert at the Wigmore Hall. Mostly Pergolesi with a bit of Vivaldi thrown in for good measure.

Janie is especially partial to the Pergolesi Stabat Mater. His less well-known Salve Regina and the instrumental pieces were beautiful. In fact the whole concert was utter tonic for our ears.

Florilegium always look as though they enjoy playing together…for all we know they might be masters of deception on stage and like a nest of vipers in the green room…but we suspect that they are as they seem – a serene, coherent unit.

They were promoting their Pergolesi CD at that time and nearly coaxed me into buying yet another disc, but I do already have a couple of complete Pergolesi Stabat Mater recordings.

Here is a very interesting promotional sample from YouTube, with some of the performers explaining the music:

Oh what the heck, that Pergolesi album of theirs is only £8 as an MP3 download and those other Pergolesi pieces were stunningly beautiful. As I write in November 2017, down it all comes like magic through the ether to my computer!

Baroque In High Definition, Academy of Ancient Music, Wigmore Hall 25 September 2009

The conceit of this tasty concert was to play baroque music that has been used in movies in the last 25 years.

It would have made little difference to us had we remained ignorant of the movie link, but possibly the conceit helped to pull in an audience, not that the Academy of Ancient Music needs much help at the Wigmore Hall on a Friday evening. Perhaps it helped the night before in Cambridge.

Richard Egarr has a very pleasant manner, as do the named soloists for this gig.

This is what we heard:

Just what the doctor ordered after a hard week’s work. Or under any circumstances really.

Vivaldi, Sammartini, Nardini, Brioschi, Fabio Biondi & The English Concert, Wigmore Hall, 25 May 2008

 

An unusual mixture of the vaguely familiar and less familiar Italian Baroque and its aftermath. The list of composers reads like an Italian restaurant menu or perhaps the lyrics of Mambo Italiano.

Fabio Biondi is a bit of a showman, I seem to recall, which is not necessarily the style that floats Janie’s boat, but it seems almost compulsory to perform Vivaldi that way these days. Although these particular Vivaldi concertos are not the best known ones, there’s always something fairly familiar about the Vivaldi concerto sound. No bad thing.

The second half of the concert was more subdued and in many ways more interesting, as I’m not sure I’d ever heard any Sammartini, Nardini or Brioschi before. Well worth a listen, but nothing so wow that I’m desperate for a recording or rushing back for more in the concert hall.

There’s no Wigmore Hall stub for this concert – those start from January 2012, but there is an Instant Encore entry, click here, so far I am the only person to confess to having attended this concert. Not even the Orchestra…

Joking apart, it was a very good concert, just one of those low key Sunday night at the Wigmore Hall affairs.

 

The King’s Consort, Bach and Vivaldi Violin Concertos, Wigmore Hall, 31 December 2007

Kings Consort 31 Dec 2007

We’d made a bit of a tradition of going to the new years eve concert at the Wigmore Hall and see in the new year quietly at the flat if we liked the look of the concert. We certainly liked the look of this one when we booked it, many months before.

Between us booking it and the concert date, Robert King of the eponymous King’s Consort was jailed for indecent assault. Unaccustomed as we were to such occurrences in our favourite baroque ensembles, we wondered what might happen to our concert. It turned out that Matthew halls, the harpsichordist, took over as the director temporarily and would lead our concert.

It all felt a bit odd and of course the programme was silent on the matter of Robert King’s absence, but still it was a good concert if I recall correctly. I can’t find any reviews and the Wigmore Hall archive stubs don’t go back that far. But they are a very accomplished group of musicians and they attract some top notch soloists, so the quality of the performances wasn’t really a surprise.

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Berlin Philharmonie Großer Saal, 28 October 2007

So, we’re in Berlin having a short break – summarised here.

We have a chance to see one of our favourite visiting orchestras at the Wigmore Hall, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, play at home for once, at the Berlin Philharmonie.

Did they score? Of course they scored – they were playing at home.

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It was an afternoon concert – the Philharmonie looked like this when we came out after the gig.

This was a Vivaldi fest – three of Antonio’s big choral works, with the RIAS Kammerchor doing the singing:

  • Magnificat RV 611
  • Dixit Dominus RV 594
  • Beatus vir RV 597

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Very suitable hall for this sort of big work and a great occasion for us as part of our short break.

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One of the highlights of our short trip to Berlin, for sure.

I couldn’t resist buying a couple of Akademie CDs on the day, both of which have had plenty of play as it happens, certainly avoiding the “doesn’t travel well; I suppose it is a souvenir” pitfall:

I know, we heard Vivaldi on the day, not Bach. But I have good recordings of those Vivaldi works, I wanted to hear some good Bach recordings by that orchestra. OK?

Academy of Ancient Music, Wigmore Hall, 20 June 2007

I’m not sure why we feel this way, but we sense something a little cliquey and clinical about the Academy of Ancient Music – perhaps it is the corporate-style branding.

The music of course is beautiful.  Not quite sure why I chose this particular serving of fairly standard baroque concert fare, especially on an inconvenient Wednesday night for Janie.  I think I might have been itching to hear the BWV1042 violin concerto live and wondering about Locatelli.

We enjoyed it all well enough.

 

AAM 20 June 2007