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Tuesday, December 22, 2015


(Darragh Morgan)

An exuberant performance which fizzed with musicality. (Review by Keith Millar)

The attractive Church of the Monastery at Mariannhill was filled almost to capacity for the Baroque 2000 Christmas Programme which was the eighth and final concert of their 2015 Series.

It was as if the Baroque 2000 ensemble had saved the best for last as they put in an exuberant performance which fizzed with musicality. This hardworking and dedicated group of musicians are hugely talented and display a level of synergy which is quite wonderful. The standard of their performances for the whole year has been out of the top drawer and this has culminated in a very special final concert.

Starting proceedings was a fine rendition of Antoine Charpenteir’s Te Deum – Overture. This triumphant composition served as grand fanfare for what was to follow. Michel Schneuwly’s performance on the trumpet in this short piece was inspired.

Guest artist at this concert was the Irish violinist Darragh Morgan who has built himself a considerable international reputation as a solo and chamber musician. As a previous Artistic Director of Baroque 2000, he is very popular amongst local artists and audiences alike.

Morgan certainly lived up to his reputation and popularity as he performed two works by Antonio Vivaldi. First there was La Stravaganza (The Extravagance) Op4 No 4 in A minor, RV 357. This was followed by Concerto in D Minor from Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’invenzione – RV 242. Both works are in three movements – fast, slow, fast and are a true test of the violinists virtuosity.

Morgan, as well as the ensemble, showed skill, subtlety and elegance as they delivered a superb performance of this exquisite baroque music.

Other items on the programme were Italian composer and violinist Pietro Locatelli’s Introduzione IV in G Major and Christmas Symphony Op 2 No 12 by Francesco Onofrio Manfredini.

As an encore we were treated to a charming baroque arrangement of the traditional carol We Wish You a Merry Christmas. It was a fitting end to the event and a year of marvellous Baroque music.

The concert was tinged with an element of sadness as it was dedicated to the life and career of Vessie Minkova, principal bassoonist for the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra who sadly passed away on November 26. The concert, and the performance of the musicians, was certainly a fitting tribute to this much loved musician.

Baroque music lovers will have to wait until March next year for the return of Baroque 2000. However they can rest assured that they will once be exposed to some exciting and entertaining music from the baroque era. – Keith Millar