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... and a dash of chutzpah

REX HARLEY listens to the
Welsh Baroque Orchestra's 'Concerto Mania'


Question: When are professional musicians amateurs?

Answer: When they earn a living with their instrument, but give up their time to rehearse and perform for the sheer enjoyment of playing and sharing music.

Most of the musicians involved in Concerto Mania, at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff, Wales, on the evening of Sunday 8 June 2003 fell into this category. And because they go under the soubriquet of 'The Welsh Baroque Orchestra', we were treated to music by Bach, Vivaldi and Corelli. The concert was directed from the harpsichord by Andrew Wilson Dixon, and the relaxed nature of the occasion was emphasised by his exhortation to the audience to feel as free as eighteenth century audiences had been, to applaud whenever we felt inclined. The church was packed to the gunwales so, had we been an unruly lot, who knows what might have happened?

The concert kicked off with Corelli's Concerto Grosso in F, a sprightly piece which established the tone of the evening's entertainment. The leader, Marc Elton showed particular exuberance, and the musicianly interplay between him and second violin, Alison Balfour-Paul revealed admirably Corelli's wit.

For the second item, Bach's Suite in B Minor, the orchestra was joined by flautist Claire Heaney, who handled the trickiest of the writing with aplomb. The baroque flute sounded particularly sweet-toned in her hands. By now, we were not only getting applause between movements; during an appreciative moment of silence, an elderly doyenne of the Cardiff music scene remarked, at perfectly judged volume: 'Very nice.' As indeed, with a few reservations I'll come to a little later, was the concert as a whole.

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Copyright © 11 June 2003 Rex Harley, Cardiff, UK


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