OAE @ QEH – J. S. Bach’s Four Orchestral Suites, BWV1066-1069

Orchestral Suites – in D, BWV1068; in C, BWV1066; in B-minor, BWV1067*; in D, BWV1069

Liza Beznosiuk (flute)*; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Margaret Faultless (leader & director)

Reviewed by: Richard Landau

Reviewed: 14 May, 2019
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Queen Elizabeth Hall

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank CentrePhotograph: Twitter @theOAEThe Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment delivered Johann Sebastian Bach’s four Orchestral Suites in life-affirming style, and with a sense of freedom that surely owes to having almost all the players standing. Directed by the self-effacing Margaret Faultless, this was an evening that provided much joy and throughout which harpsichordist Christopher Bucknall provided stylish continuo.

The order of presentation worked very well. The ‘Ouverture’ of BWV1068 set the tone with trumpets and timpani wonderfully commanding, and the broad tempo for the famous ‘Air’ (on the G string) was a happy one, later receiving audience approval via a show of hands amusingly requested by viola-player Max Mandel. The subsequent dance movements were engagingly delivered, not least the undulating rhythms of the infectious final ‘Gigue’. In the C-major Suite, as elsewhere, the piquant and wonderfully accomplished contributions of oboists Katharina Spreckelsen and Alexandra Bellamy, and bassoonist Sally Jackson, were a delight, and in the B-minor successor Lisa Beznosiuk’s contributions were amazing for stylishness and breath-control, exceptionally so in the closing ‘Badinerie’. Finally, the other Suite in D (BWV1069), trumpets and drums blazing and resounding, the following dances pointed up most attractively, with the concluding ‘Réjouissance’ fully living up to its title.

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