Review / Songs of intrigue and diabolical love

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Greta Claringbould and Maartje Sevenster perform with Adhoc Baroque. Photo by Peter Hislop

COMPOSERS have always sort to bring out a sense of daring and innovation in their music, along with intrigue and at times the almost diabolical actions of people in love. These themes underpin the songs in this concert.

Italian born Agostino Steffani (1654-1728), Antonio Caldara (1670-1736), Giovanni Clari (1677-1754) and Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739) composed opera, concert and sacred music, but it was their vocal duets and cantatas that would become their better-known subject matter, and, what was programmed in this concert titled “Luci Adorate – The Game of Love”.

Adhoc Baroque who regularly invite other players into their group was for this concert made up of just four performers, soprano Greta Claringbould, mezzo-soprano Maartje Sevenster, baroque cello Clara Teniswood and on harpsichord and direction Peter Young.

Beginning with several lively airs and recitatives and a duet from Steffani, the sound of the music shone from the performers throughout the church.

These pieces, which are seldom played show just how important and especially well-crafted this music and the setting can be. With two, or just one singer and only a couple of instruments creates the most intimate experience of music that an audience can have. The first-hand and detailed encounter with this style reveals just how distinctive music can be.

Sevenster sang her songs with confidence and a well-poised tension that added much to the quality of the music. Her ability to convey inferred and hidden emotions through her facial expressions and body movement adds much more to the story of the song.

Teniswood on cello and Young on harpsichord added their clear and harmonious playing to produce music that felt like what an original performance might have – distinctive and personalised.

Claringbould’s soprano voice always catches this reviewers’ ear. On this occasion her performance could have been more animated, however, towards the end when the two singers sang towards each other she came alive with style and substance.

When Sevenster and Claringbould combine, a unique quality radiates from them. Both never out sing or outperform each other. Both are clearly distinctive when singing a duet and they bounce off one another to create a balance that makes for a sublime experience. When they hold hands and smile at one another and acknowledge the other players at the end of sets, the bond between them gets passed onto the audience, which always makes their performance a special treat.

This was another concert where Adhoc Baroque brought forth several rare gems that are worthy of being heard again and again. It is always interesting to hear their concerts because of the quality performances and their creative programming of music that has slipped through the cracks of history.

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