Europa Galante Fabio Biondi

Burlesque de Quixotte, TWV55
Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op.3/2
Violin Concerto in C minor
Ouverture in D minor, Op.4/2
Harpsichord Concerto in D, BWV1054
Concerto Grosso in D, Op.6/4

Nicolau de Figueiredo (harpsichord)

Europa Galante
Fabio Biondi (violin)

Reviewed by: William Yeoman

Reviewed: 28 May, 2005
Venue: St John's, Smith Square, London

Europa Galante, under its director Fabio Biondi, is known for its fiery, imaginative and often controversial interpretations. The performances comprising this concert proved to be no exception, with playing of startling virtuosity and verve from the 12 string players supported by harpsichord and theorbo.

Telemann’s Burlesque de Quixotte, which opened the concert, is a colourful sequence of highly original pieces based on episodes from Cervantes’s novel; this was followed by Geminiani’s exciting Concerto Grosso in G minor and a frankly derivative violin concerto by one Mauro d’Alai (who died in 1757).

Following the interval Europa Galante gave a performance of Francesco Barsanti’s progressive-sounding Ouverture in D minor; the strings then thinned to three violins, a viola, cello and double-bass for Bach’s popular Harpsichord Concerto in D (his own arrangement of the E major Violin Concerto). The ensemble returned to full strength for a spectacular performance of Corelli’s Concerto Grosso in D and three encores (an unidentified pizzicato piece, Telemann’s Moto Perpetuo and a repeat of the final Allegro from the Corelli).

The performers’ joy in the music was obvious; they never left off smiling or swaying (the strings, excepting of course the cellos, played standing). There was a spontaneity and freshness to the interpretations, despite the military-like precision of the ensemble work. Biondi played like a man possessed, particularly in the d’Alai, and the many cadenza-like moments scattered throughout the other works. My only disappointment was in the Bach; despite the superlative playing of Nicolau de Figueiredo, his harpsichord was barely audible at times and as a result much of the string accompaniment seemed to dominate, despite the reduced ensemble.

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