The annual St John’s Smith Square Christmas Festival has adopted a number of performers who seem to return each year, one being the European Union Baroque Orchestra. As readers may know, EUBO have had a troubled year as their usual EU funding stream ground to a halt – hopefully temporarily. Despite having had to cancel the 2014 cohort of auditioned players, they have continued to keep up some elements of their touring concert schedule, drawing on players from earlier incarnations of the training orchestra.
Their SJSS programme (11 Dec 2014) was Le Création du Monde, starting, perhaps appropriately given their current situation, with Rebel’s depiction of chaos at the opening of Les Elémens. The second half Suite of pieces from three Rameau operas had a similar start with the Ouverture from Zaïs (a more hesitant depiction of chaos), closing with the tempest from Platée, with the filling between focussed on various wind-inspired pieces from Les Boréades. The other works were Muffat’s Propitia Sydera Concerto Grosso (with its fine Ciacono) and Rebel’s Les Caractères de la Danse. As ever, the young players demonstrated characteristic grace and eloquence along with musical excellence, with notable contributions from flautists Emma Halnan and Flavia Hirte, violinists Yotam Gaton and Jamiang Santi and cellist Guillermo Turna Serrano.
This review first appeared in Early Music Review, Feb 2015.