<< -- 3 -- David Wilkins A WEEK TO REMEMBER
A visit by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir conducted by Tom
Koopman began tentatively but progressed to a rousing, very satisfying conclusion.
The all Handel programme was balanced as a minor-key first half and a jubilant
second. Nothing wrong with the idea, but the playing of the G Minor Concerto
Grosso Op 6 No 6 was fairly ordinary despite the valiant efforts of
the orchestra leader to inject degrees of passion and pathos into the music-making.
The usual merits of Koopman's no-nonsense way with such works was in evidence
but the performance remained disappointingly earthbound. Perhaps the resident
birds have become critically astute over the years as one or two took this
opportunity to stretch their wings a mite.
The Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline fared better. The choir
was crisp and precise and the soloists blended well. Robin Blaze's alto
sound is not, thankfully for the balance, of the clarion variety and he,
of all the soloists, looked and sounded most involved in the work. It needed
the restorative interval, however, and the glowing riches of the Dettingen
Te Deum to spark the evening into life. They brought on the trumpets
and drums and everyone, performers and audience alike, remembered what it
is to be carried along with the rush of Handel's inspiration. Natural trumpets
made a particularly fine sound in that acoustic, Koopman relished the syncopations
and even treated us to an encore repetition of the conclusion with mischief-making
acceleration. Festival-feelgood had been restored and the audience (less
than capacity for this concert, surprisingly) spilled into another balmy
night with a baroque spring to their step.
The first of the London Philharmonic's concerts demonstrated, with all
due respect to the Istanbul orchestra, quite what a first-rate band could
make of the hall. The much beefier, more resilient violin sound was immediately
apparent and the brass section's chorusing showed that it had probably taken
them no longer to master the acoustic than it had to unpack their instruments.
Jukka Pekka Saraste conducted a programme of Sibelius and Tchaikovsky which
made for the initially odd juxtaposition of Sibelius' cool imaginings at
the end of a sweltering Istanbul day. Pohjola's Daughter (what a
great piece it is!) had plenty of belly-fire and ample soulful singing-out.
Only the ultimate in mid-work propulsion was lacking in a performance that
subsided into a wonderfully hushed solitude before the audience released
the strength of their appreciation.
Copyright © 30 June 2002
David Wilkins, Eastbourne, Sussex, UK
THE ISTANBUL INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL