Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Gig-a-Blog™ (Mary Pells & Martin Knizia, St Anne & St Agnes)

Friday, 1 February 2008

Mary Pells, viola da gamba; Martin Knizia, harpsichord. Sonatas by G F Handel, G Finger and J Roman

Handel (attrib): poised, stately Adagio: incredible listenable purity and beauty of sound in this combination of instruments, or at any rate as it is played by these two people. The first Allegro is lively, tripping over itself in scalic runs then hovering for a moment over fast repeated notes in the gamba before it rushes off again. Most exciting. The second adagio is more song-like and emotional, and the second allegro is jolly, lilting, almost bucolic. Excellent fun, excellent performance. This work was great: full of life and clarity.

Roman. The "Handel of Sweden" says Martin. Allegro: light, lively, busy. Larghetto: rather squarely structured but enlivened by a couple of nice, plangent, harmonically interesting moments. Allegro: festive feeling, lilts along pleasantly, nice variety in the way the harpsichord's range is used.

Handel (the real one, not attrib!) Adagio: lovely, sinuous, flowing. I see what the programme note means, though, about the greater equality, in the maybe-fake-Handel, of the instruments. Here the gamba's getting nearly all the cool stuff and the poor harpsichord is mostly going chuggy chuggy chord-chord-chord with the odd moment of relief. Hmm I wonder if there's a big notational difference in the keyboard part between the Handel and the ersatz-Handel? I am too embarrassed to speculate in case I am so wrong as to look an even bigger nana than usual, but I might, if courage and time permit, ask someone. (Update: I asked. Yup. The real Handel is a figured bass whereas the perhaps-not-Handel specifies the right hand, at least to an extent.) Allegro: sounds like the Christmas Oratorio at the start - or is it just me? Largo: yes well he's better at lovely flowing lines than poor Roman. Very nice. Second Allegro: erm, is this a gigue or something? It's very jolly and gallops along at a fair old rollicking pace.

Finger: goodness me, this is a whole opera! Much drama in evidence and multiple changes of scene. Three movements but ten section/tempo indications. Certainly enough to get your average programme-reading Vogel quite lost. Actually I think we may have just hit the middle movement, Aria, though just now it seems to think it's a rather nice chorale. Ah, I see, now it's doing variations, how splendid. And now there's what may be the next movement beginning with a nice Adagio - or else I'm lost again. Another jolly tum-tee-tum bit - not unlike Handel's second Allegro - did Finger copy in the exam? Ah, excellent, it was the last section and I wasn't lost - makes a change!

What a lovely gig and well done Pells and Knizia.

On the way back to the office I was reflecting, with gratitude, how incredibly bl**dy lucky I am to have St Anne & St Agnes and its amazing concert series right on my doorstep. It is a crucial, sanity-saving part of my week and I cannot thank the church and all its people enough for what they have going on there. I'm like, yeah man, woo (high five) right on; yes, indeed I am. Mr Thompson, the tea for our guests if you please.

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