Saturday, 11 May 2013

'Tis Nature's Voice - Handel Lufthansa Baroque Festival

The winter of 1739-40 was one of the coldest in  memory. The Thames froze, and snow blocked access to and from London. Two weeks after Handel completed L'Allegro, il Pensoroso ed il Moderato the long frost was broken by a terrible storm which wreaked havoc on the city. How distant Spring must have seemed! This year's Lufthansa Baroque Festival heralds the theme of Spring and Nature, highly welcome after the long winter we've just come through.

What joy it must have been to experience Handel's L'Allegro, il Pensoroso ed il Moderato in St John's, Smith Square, last night at the beginning of this year's Lufthansa Baroque Festival.  It was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and will be available online for a week. Paul McCreesh conducts the Gabrieli Consort and players with Gillian Webster, Jeremy Ovenden and Ashley Riches. Bird song in the orchestration! Trills and decoration in the singing. The Happy One likes earthly delights, the Thoughtful One likes contemplative restraint. The Moderator suggests that all pleasures are good, in balance.

Andreas Staier makes his first solo appearance on Sunday, playing at St Peter's Eaton Square in a programme "noble, refined and deeply felt works by the great harpsichord masters of the 17th century, including Louis Couperin, Froberger, J. C. F. Fischer, D'Anglebert and Muffat."  Staier's presence is a measure of the high standing due the Lufthansa Baroque Festival  The youthful European Union Baroque Orchestra plays the same evening, under Lars Urik Mortensen.

On Wednesday, the Festival moves to Westminster Abbey for a grand Purcell celebration., "'Tis Nature's Voice". Purcell was organist there 450 years ago, adding to the sense of occasion. Pavlo Beznosiuk, Ensemble La Fenice, Florilegium, Garth Knox, Imaginarium and Le Jardin Secret to follow, The final gala evening on 18/5 brings the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra with Carolyn Sampson. "Baroque on the High Seas" is a "bracing encounter with the 18th-century ocean in all its facets, from opera arias by Handel and Vivaldi comparing the vicissitudes of love to the ups and downs of the rolling seas, to a typically witty celebration by Telemann of the Hamburg Port Authority. Bring waterproofs!" 

 For more details see the Lufthansa Baroque Festival website. 

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