“Kristian Bezuidenhout joins period ensemble The English Concert for a Baroque journey around Europe, featuring lively English dances by Purcell, virtuosic harpsichord music by Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre and chamber music by Handel and Telemann.” [BBC Proms website]
The English Concert & Kristian Bezuidenhout (harpsichord)
Reviewed by: Alexander Campbell
Reviewed: 5 August, 2019
Venue: Cadogan Hall, London
Comprising music derived largely from the late-seventeenth-century this was a fascinating programme featuring works all attempting to seek popularity by adopting or emulating features of music popular at the court of Louis XIV.
The English Concert set the scene with the Overture from the incidental music Purcell composed for a revival of Thomas D’Urfy’s comedy The Virtuous Wife. This was followed other Purcell pieces, including from The Fairy Queen, and the Indian Queen, before further music for the D’Urfy play, exquisitely played, ending with the Chacony.
Also represented was Louis Marchand, whose improvisatory Allemande was played by Kristian Bezuidenhout. This rather curious piece meanders through various keys, exploiting some interesting harmonic twists on the way, but ultimately lacks a satisfying thread or focus. More enthralling was the D-minor Violin Sonata by Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, a child prodigy of her time and feted by the Sun King, played by violinist Tuomo Suni with support from cellist Piroska Baranyay and Bezuidenhout. Soaring lines and precision were hallmarks of this reading.
The final two pieces were from Telemann and Handel respectively, strings, theorbo and harpsichord were all. In the former’s A-minor Sonata the second movement with its galloping motif was delightfully sprung and vital, although the Largo e staccato of the fourth also demanded attention for similar reasons! Handel’s G-major Trio Sonata (Opus 5/4) may not be top-drawer, but the violins of the second movement provided much character as did the infectious ‘Gigue’.