Music / “Jupiter: Pièces de Clavecin”, Wesley Music Foundation in collaboration with harpsichordist Ariana Odermatt, Wesley Music Centre, October 30. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY
FINALLY, a concert of live music after months of COVID-19 lockdown. For the first concert back, it could not have been better than to hear the wonderful playing of Ariana Odermatt on her red harpsichord. Vive la musique.
In a concert of two performances straight after one another in the Wesley Music Centre, hearing her French double-manual harpsichord after Hubbard, which she calls “Big Red”, played so enthusiastically was a joy to this reviewer’s ears, and for the happy audience. I know everyone was smiling under their masks.
First up came François Couperin and his “Troisième Ordre”, 11 out of the 13 parts were performed. This work crosses many styles of dance music, including a Chaconne, Gavotte, Menuet and a highly animated part titled “The Hobgoblin”. Odermatt had clearly kept up her practice during lockdown, her performance throughout this multi-faceted work, faultless.
François Couperin wrote perfectly idiomatic music for the harpsichord. Each part bounced along brightly even in the most complex sections, which were challenging.
Then Johann Sebastian Bach’s C minor “Prelude and Fugue” BWV871. In a feast of notes that spins listeners around, while in a limited range on the harpsichord, it was amazing just how much Bach could fit into that span. The playing was exceptional, Odermatt especially on song.
The final work in seven parts titled “Cinquième Suite”, in C minor, as all the works were, was composed by Antoine Forqueray and was the standout piece of the concert.
With a strong and highly original musical narrative running through each part, its idiosyncratic idioms were mixed with many challenging changes for any player, but Odermatt felt at home with this work, and it showed through her fine performance of this perplexing music.
This suite takes a player’s full concentration and ability, and the shifts in styles and rhythms kept each audience member alert to its individuality. Several parts were darkly dramatic; these were the best. A listener might have thought, ‘what is going to come next’, and what did always surprised. For music written mid-1700s, it is astounding to hear its freshness and contemporary nature.
Odermatt captured every note, emotion and musical gestures with style and substance. A short encore followed of an obscure piece, which was not required after listening to such fascinating music.
It was especially pleasing to hear this original music in this first concert since lockdown. It is wonderful to know that live music is back and still being performed so well.
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