Review / Enjoyable from the very first chord

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Limestone Consort. Photo by Peter Hislop
FROM the very first chord, it was obvious this was going to be an enjoyable recital. The entry was perfectly timed, assured, and well-balanced, with the beautifully blended sound comfortably filling All Saints’ rather nice acoustic.

In a free concert (but inviting a retiring donation) Limestone Consort, a string ensemble with chamber organ continuo, all led by violinist, Lauren Davis, presented a charming program of baroque music. Two were well known works by J S Bach, with a lesser-known work each from Telemann and Albinoni.

Telemann’s light-hearted “Burlesque de Quixotte” portrays exactly the mood of the famous early-17th century novel, “Don Quixote”, by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. Its language translations are exceeded only by the “Bible”, but it has also found its way into many other settings.  he most famous is the stage and film musical, “Man of La Mancha”.

Telemann’s musical setting tells the story of Don Quixote in an overture and six titled movements, all in baroque dance form. Limestone conveyed the humour and wit of the work superbly; there was the braying donkey, Quixote’s mopey sighs for his imaginary princess Dulcinea, and even his deluded fury at the windmill monsters.

Then came music by Albinoni – not his famous “Adagio for Strings”, which, Davis told her audience, he didn’t even write, but his “Sonata in C, Op 2 No 3”.  Even so, there were some stylings and harmonies very reminiscent of the “Adagio” through this work, particularly in the first movement. Limestone’s playing again was eloquent but could have done with a quick re-tune after Quixote’s adventures.

The ensemble then re-organised itself for J S Bach’s “Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor”, with Michelle Higgs and Matthew Witney out in front. There was excellent, thoughtful and precise interaction between these two, with good back-up from the rest of the ensemble, if a trifle loud. The opposing stances of the soloists also meant the balance between them was a little uneven, with the sound of Witney’s violin casting back into the ensemble, rather than out to the audience.

The final work was J S Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No 3”.  There are six in the set, which Bach dedicated and presented to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, in 1721. Davis told her audience it likely was a job application, but the Margrave did not rise to the bait.

The smiling faces in the ensemble and their spirited and confident playing, showed they relished this work.

The final movement lost a little clarity, which a lighter touch would fix, but it was no less enjoyable, the audience rewarding their very engaging performance with extended applause.

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