Il Pomo d’Oro at Weill Recital Hall – Haydn, Telemann, Corrette & Bach

Harpsichord Concerto in D, Hob.XVIII:11
Nouveaux quatuors – Quatuor No.6 in E-minor, TWV43:e4
Michel Corrette
Concerto comique No.25 in G-minor, ‘Les sauvages et la furstemberg’
J. S. Bach
Brandenburg Concerto No.5 in D, BWV1050
Il Pomo d’Oro
Maxim Emelyanychev (harpsichord), Zefira Valova & Nicholas Robinson (violins), Max Mandel (viola), Ludovico Minasi (cello) Natalia Timofeeva (viola da gamba), Sue Yelanjian (bass) & Eva Ivanova (flute)

Reviewed by: David M. Rice

Reviewed: 22 April, 2022
Venue: Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City

This concert by members of Il Pomo d’Oro was of historically-informed performances in the Baroque style.

Maxim Emelyanychev conducted from the harpsichord in the opening Haydn, the last of the composer’s Keyboard Concertos, performed here without the oboes and horns called for in the original score. In the tuneful opening Vivace, Emelyanychev showed off fluent runs set against recurring figures on the five accompanying strings, and he subtly varied tempos and dynamics in virtuoso cadenzas in this movement and the ensuing Adagio. The Finale, marked Rondo all’ungarese, was the highlight, rich with infectious Hungarian-influenced rhythms and unusual harmonies.

Next was Quatuor No.6 from Telemann’s second set of ‘Paris’ Quartets, scored for violin, flute, viola da gamba and continuo. The six-movement work features a variety of dance rhythms and contrasting moods. The soloists were all outstanding, with Zefira Valova and Eva Ivanova frequently exchanging and embellishing melodic material, and Natalia Timofeeva’s vigorous playing on viola da gamba standing out, particularly in the penultimate movement, marked ‘Distrait’ (disturbed).

Following intermission, the Concerto comique, ‘Les sauvages et la furstemberg’, by Michel Corrette, a prolific but relatively obscure eighteenth-century French composer. Corrette’s work consists of three sets of variations on themes by other composers. Jean-Phillippe Rameau’s ‘Les sauvages’ from his Les Indes Galantes is the subject of the opening Allegro’s variations; the pizzicato-laden Andante is based on the aria ‘Quand on aimer et plaire’ from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s opera Le Devin du village; and the ‘La furstemberg’ theme of the concluding Allegro is from an anonymous seventeenth-century French composer. This concatenation of borrowed themes proved quite delightful. In ‘Les sauvages’, Ivanova’s flute and Valova’s violin predominated, while in the middle movement flute and harpsichord engaged in playful competition. The flute led off the Finale with a charming, dancelike theme, but the violin soon took center stage, with Valova’s rocking bowing predominant and her soft tremolos bringing the work to a gentle conclusion.

Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto measured up well in sound and spirit to those by larger ensembles. Emelyanychev gave the harpsichord part an exciting reading, brilliant in the monumental first-movement cadenza. Ivanova’s flute and Valova’s violin sang out sweetly in the Affetuoso middle movement, and all three soloists propelled the Allegro’s fugue to a satisfying conclusion.

The players returned for an encore: the Passacaille from Handel’s Sonata in G, Op.5/4, HWV399.

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