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Friday, September 9, 2016


(Cecilia di Cecco (cello) & Evelien Ballantine (flute).)

Featured soloists produced performances of considerable skill and panache. (Review by Keith Millar)

The Baroque 2000 August concert, which took place recently at the Marianhill Monastery, was a very enjoyable musical event. The programme showcased first-rate music from five Italian born composers, all of which displayed plenty of energy, drama and grandeur.

The Baroque 2000 ensemble performed these musical gems with great vigour and flair. In particular, the two featured soloists, flautist Evelien Ballantine and concertmaster Ralitsa Matcheva on violin, produced performances of considerable skill and panache.

Guest artist, Evelien Ballantine, was the soloist in Alessandro Scarlatti’s Sonata Nona (No 9) for Flute in A minor and Francesco Mancini’s Sonata for flute in D minor.

Alessandro Scarlatti was a prodigious composer of Italian Baroque music. He wrote over 100 operas, more than 600 cantatas and a number of oratorios. His fame today rests primarily on his vocal music, but Scarlatti received frequent commissions for instrumental music during his career as well.

Francesco Mancini is a lesser-known composer who spent much of his life in the shadow of Scarlatti. His work is very much undervalued. Today he is best known for his recorder sonatas.

Evelien Ballantine is an accomplished and experienced musician and she produced a performance of skill, sensitivity and elegance with both of these works.

Baroque 2000 concertmaster Ralitsa Matcheva was the soloist for the rather magnificent L’inquietudine Concerto for violin RV 234 by Antonio Vivaldi. This is a pretty boisterous and frenetic work with a typical Vivaldi feel about it.

Ralitsa Matcheva is an animated, expressive and cheerful performer. It is always a pleasure to hear and watch her play - and this occasion was no different. She gave a rousing and virtuosic rendering of the Vivaldi violin concerto.

Completing a splendid concert of Italian Baroque music was Francesco Saverio Geminiani’s Concerto Grosso Op 3 No1 and Giuseppe Valentini’s Concerto for 4 violins Op Vll No 11 in A Minor.

Valentini may be regarded as a lesser-known Baroque composer but his Concerto for 4 violins is a magnificent work - full of exuberance, excitement and spirit.

It is worth noting that the Monastery Tea Garden is once again operating – and is offering special breakfasts and lunches to concert goers. There can be few more rewarding things to do on a Sunday morning than spending time in the tranquil surroundings of the Marianhill Monastery and enjoying some excellent music and food.

The next Baroque 2000 concert will take place on September 25. For more information, contact Michel Schneuwly on 031 312 5539, 082 3035241 or at – Keith Millar