Continuo Foundation “Preserving historical performance in the UK“
The Continuo Foundation was founded earlier this year, and was soon granted charitable status by the UK Charities Commission. Their Mission is “To support a flourishing historical performance sector, sustaining the careers of its virtuosic freelance musicians, creating opportunities for the next generation of artists entering the field and widening access to performances for communities across the UK“. They realised that, without support, the once-thriving UK historical performance sector could be permanently damaged by Covid restrictions. To that, I would add the devastating effect of a badly-negotiated Brexit deal that seems to have ignored the vital importance to musicians of easy travel within Europe. Their immediate aim was to help period instrument ensembles to remain active by developing Covid-safe projects as a way of creating employment for musicians. Their longer term aim is to “provide a new resource for connecting ensembles, musicians, audiences, and venues in order to grow the UK’s historical performance sector and preserve its celebrated tradition of excellence“.
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Academy of Ancient Music Richard Egarr, Rachel Podger Live from The Barbican First broadcast 27 June 2021. Available on-line until 29 June.
Corelli: Concerto Grosso No 1 in D major, Op 6 Maria Grimani: Sinfonia to Pallade e Marte Corelli: Concerto Grosso No 2 in F major, Op 6 Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Vivaldi’s Four Season’s is an inevitable war-horse guaranteed to attract audiences – in this case, a reduced socially-distanced audience for the live performance together with on-line viewers who have the option to view, for a modest fee, until 8pm on Tuesday 29 June. There are limits as to what performers can do with the Four Seasons, one being musical taste. But there is no limit as to the context in which a performance is set. And that is what makes this airing interesting, with its rare performance of the Sinfonia to Pallade e Marte by Maria Grimani, alongside two of Corelli’s well-known Concerto Grossi.
Baroque at the EdgeFestival Recorded at LSO St Luke’s, London Broadcast online between7-10 January 2021, available to 31 March 2021
In pre-coronavirus days, the musically barren early days of January have been enlivened by the imaginative Baroque at the Edge Festival, usually spanning a weekend in venues around their home base of LSO at St Luke’s in London. Previous festivals are reviewed here and here. Run by Artistic Director Lindsay Kemp and Festival Manager Lucy Bending (the team behind the London Festival of Baroque Music and its predecessor, the Lufthansa Festival), the festival has secured a place in the London concert scene with their refreshing approach to Baroque music, as exemplified by such banners as “No rules, no boundaries – just Baroque music set loose” and “Imagine if Vivaldi was a folk-fiddler, Purcell a protest-singer, or Bach a techno-geek”. The more succinct and apt “No rules, no walls” for this year’s Covid-constrained festival reflected the on-line nature of the events.
Vivaldi: Le Quatro Stagioni Il Riposo, L’Amoroso, and Il Grosso Mogul
Rachel Podger, Brecon Baroque
Channel Classics CCS SA 403318. 75’24
Although the Four Seasons sounds much better in Italian, it doesn’t hide the fact that this is yet another recording of the inevitable old favourite. Despite there being squillions of other recordings available, a new one will probably guarantee good sales, not least because people do seem to like what they know. And they do know the Four Seasons, even if the CD title of Le Quatro Stagioni might confuse them a little. Vivaldi wrote more than 200 concertos for violin and orchestra, For the more discerning listener, there has to be something distinctive to separate any new recording out from the competition. And, boy, haven’t some people tried something distinctive. Rachel Podger and her Brecon Baroque avoid the ‘distinctive’ route and instead focus on intelligent music-making, aided by sensitive articulation, sensible speeds and appropriate accompaniments. Continue reading →
For those with limited time but an insatiable urge to attend early music concerts, I can recommend the Tage Alter Musik festival in the delightful Danube city of Regensburg (the entire city centre is a World Heritage site). With no fewer than 17 concerts in just 4 days, this is not for the faint-hearted. But the musical rewards and the historical venues (which include extreme Baroque, austere Gothic and the Reichssaal, for centuries the seat of the Parliament of the Holy Roman Empire) are worth the attempt. Continue reading →