Review / Dedicated salute to Pisendel

Music / Salut! Baroque, “Pisendel and Friends”. At Albert Hall, Friday, February 9. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY

JOHANN Georg Pisendel (1687-1755) a highly regarded figure of the baroque period who was born in Germany and once performed the music of Telemann with J.S. Bach had this concert dedicated to him and the composers he knew and worked with.

Johann Georg Pisendel

Pisendel’s “Imitation des Caractères de le Danse”, began the concert. This stately dance piece had a slightly odd construction; it started with the violins stating a well-tempered dance time meter, then about one minute in it changed tempo and meter to a more lively pace, and then again turned and rushed away at greater speed before settling back to its original pulse. In all, a lively piece with great variety.

The musicians on the night were, Sally Melhuish, recorder; Hans-Dieter Michatz, recorder; Alicia Crossley, recorder; Alexandra Bailliet-Joly, recorder, Rafael Font; baroque violin; Stephen Freeman, baroque violin; Bridget Hall, baroque violin; Julia Russoniello, baroque violin; Valmai Coggins, baroque viola; Tim Blomfield, bass violin, and Monika Kornel on harpsichord.

The “Concerto a quattro in G minor”, by Giuseppe Torelli came next. The delicate, slow opening resounded evenly from all players. The slow second movement had a striking play between melody and a walking pace rhythm, which was sweetly played. The third and fastest movement came across as a concerto for two violins;  an even piece throughout.

Jan Dimas Zelenka’s “Miserere in C minor” began with a driving bass ground that was soon taken up by the higher string instruments. Then the recorders came in, floating their tune over the ground, from soprano to bass recorder they made this two-part Miserere a delicious experience.

There was a perfect evenness to Tomaso Albinoni’s “Sonata a cinque in G minor”.  No instrument stood out; it was a union of refinement and calmness. The third movement was an example of baroque elegance and tonality.

Telemann, who wrote some of the greatest recorder music, showed off his skills in his “Concerto à 7 in A minor”. All four recorders set the tone for this mellow and soothing opening adagio. The recorders led all movements and it created a unison that made this a standout piece.

After the interval, there was more Telemann, his “Overture in G minor”.  Johann David Heinichen’s “Concerto à 8 in C major”, contained four alto recorders and had a striking and unique trio in the Pasterell second movement. The exceptional sound of this trio had the audience enthralled. The following adagio added another sublime dimension to this spellbinding work. The final allegro assai showed a composer displaying his unique musical talent.

The “Adagio and Fugue in G minor”, by Franz Xaver Richter, followed and then it was time for Vivaldi. His “Concerto in D minor” RV 566, had all the players saving their best for the last. It showed a composer who had perhaps the brightest and most vivid colours on his palette.

All through this hot and humid concert, the players did their best to keep their period instruments in tune. While it was a struggle to keep a balance, they maintained unity and played superbly in the uncomfortable conditions.

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