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Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert,


The splendour of the Italian early baroque resounded in the elegant spaces of London's Wigmore Hall, currently in its Centenary Season, in a masterly concert of Monteverdi and 17th century Venice given on 10 January 2001 by Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert with a superb quartet of singers. The choice of programme as well as the execution were superlative, the capacity audience's buzz of intense anticipation at the start bursting into enthusiastic cheers at the end. The reason was clear: seldom does one hear Monteverdi and his contemporaries performed with so much vivid colour, luscious yet lucid textures, rhythmic variety and zest.

Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert have hitherto distinguished themselves in the baroque and early classical field, but recent performances such as this programme and a Monteverdi opera in Athens appear to mark a new departure. If so it is to be welcomed, along with any recordings that may follow.

The bristling contrasts of Dario Castello's Sonata 15 formed a bright overture, followed by the madrigal, 'Ogni amanate e guerrier' from Monteverdi's revolutionary Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi, Book VIII. That collection marks the bold intersection of melifluous, abstract polyphony of the late Renaissance, with the early Baroque's tonally thrusting, operatic monody, and ever expressive affects, punchy false relations, and biting suspended cadences, all of which is evident in 'Ogni amanate'. The incisive, florid counterpoint of the duets that frame this piece, were projected with the brightly pointed, pure-toned tenor voices of Paul Agnew and Richard Edgar-Wilson, while equally outstanding was the bass Antonio Abete. His velvety, deep tones conveyed Monteverdi's vivid word painting, first the languor of the idle youth then, with exciting rhythmic acceleration, the valiant vigour of the ardent warrior-lover.

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Copyright © 13 January 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




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