United Kingdom Numerous: Daria van den Bercken (piano), Thomas Hancox (flute), Britten Sinfonia / Thomas Gould (violin / director). Milton Courtroom Live performance Corridor, London, 14.3.2023. (JC)
J S Bach – Brandenburg Concerto No.5
Mathilde Wantenaar – Rhapsody for Piano and Strings (world premiere)
David John Roche – Sentimental Espionage Music (world premiere)
Stravinsky – Dumbarton Oaks
Haydn – Symphony No.22 (‘The Thinker’)
The Britten Sinfonia and pianist Daria van den Bercken introduced a splendidly recent and well-curated programme to a really receptive viewers at Milton Courtroom Live performance Corridor final Friday night.
The programme, whereas presenting works from the Baroque interval all the best way to world premieres, nonetheless had a robust and cohesive strand working by means of it: all 4 main works introduced that night paid homage to Baroque music in a technique or one other. Mathilde Wantenaar’s Rhapsody for Piano and Strings took Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.5 — opening piece of the night — as its place to begin, in addition to incorporating elements of the fugue in D minor from E book II of Bach’s Nicely-Tempered Clavier; in Stravinsky’s humorous and creative concerto Dumbarton Oaks we see the avant-garde composer tipping his hat in the direction of Baroque practices and conventions, whereas Haydn’s Symphony No.22 in E-flat main — in the identical key as Dumbarton Oaks — begins by ‘alluding to a mysterious and antiquated “church” model within the opening motion’ (from programme notes) earlier than shedding its disguise and taking off on a tour de power within the classical model.
I take pains to elucidate the cohesiveness of the programme as a result of I can not stress how a lot this well-balanced programme allowed me to hearken to classical music with recent ears. Regardless of the inclusion of canonical names like Bach and Haydn, it was clear that the items had been put collectively to enhance one another fairly than merely supporting one massive masterpiece. Thus, each bit carried out sounded as splendidly recent as its predecessor. This expertise was additionally helped by the liberty with which the gamers onstage approached the music.
The Britten Sinfonia gamers and Daria van den Bercken opened the night with an excellent efficiency of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.5. Violinist Thomas Gould — who can be the chief of the Britten Sinfonia — carried with him an infectious enthusiasm for the music, whereas van den Bercken, taking part in the a part of the harpsichord on a Steinway grand, rose to the problem and was capable of weave out and in of the feel, generally cushioning the sounds of the 2 different soloists and at different occasions launching into prospers of virtuosic passages, conjuring stunning colors on the best way and culminating in a really thrilling cadenza on the finish of the primary motion. There was fantastic musicianship between trio — Gould and van den Bercken alongside flautist Thomas Hancox – nevertheless it was the liberty with which they performed and loved themselves that basically set us in the fitting temper.
Mathilde Wantenaar’s Rhapsody for Piano and Strings is a superbly unpretentious and accessible piece bursting with creativity. Positioned after the Brandenburg concerto, it appeared to point out a contemporary twist on the thrill present in Bach’s counterpoint and polyphony, whereas injecting extra up to date rhythms into quite simple and accessible melodic motifs. The music captured my consideration with its ever-changing moods and waves of power. Wantenaar appeared unafraid to make references, nearly welcoming them: I detected hints of Bach, Bartók, Rachmaninov and even one thing that made me consider The Pirates of the Caribbean! Most significantly, it appeared like plenty of enjoyable and couldn’t have had higher performers to deliver it alive for the primary time within the public sphere than van den Bercken and the Britten Sinfonia.
After a quick piece — Sentimental Espionage Music — by David John Roche, the second half of the live performance continued with Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks concerto. To carry out the concerto conductor-less is kind of a problem, however the efficiency labored effectively with Gould main — whose enthusiasm and robust sense of rhythm had been by no means missing — permitting the viewers to see how the gamers labored collectively, making the efficiency extra thrilling. The swap to a extra classical model of taking part in for the Haydn symphony confirmed simply how versatile the gamers of the Britten Sinfonia had been. Kudos have to be given particularly to the horn gamers for tackling such a troublesome half, however the virtuosity of this fairly compact consort actually deserved the applause they acquired that night. All in all, a splendidly programmed live performance of light-heartedness and enjoyable made all the higher by an exquisite set of gamers.