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Sunday, October 2, 2016


Wonderfully varied and enjoyable selection of music. (Review by Keith Millar)

The street posters around town indicated that last Sunday’s Baroque 2000 concert at the Church of the Monastery at Mariannhill would feature German Masters. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond the control of the organisers, changes had to be made, and in the end the programme could more accurately have been billed as featuring French and German Masters.

While some may have missed their Buxtehude and Bach, I am sure that no-one in the audience was disappointed with the wonderfully varied and enjoyable selection of music that the amended programme offered.

To start with, we were treated to the brief and magnificently ceremonial Overture from Te Deum by the prolific French composer Marc Antoine Charpentier. It is a powerfully dramatic work. It featured KZNPO timpanist Stéphane Pechoux playing the kettle drums and trumpeter Michel Schneuwly. It was a most exhilarating start to the concert.

The next item on the programme was also provided by a French composer – the melodic Trio Sonata Op 2 No.1 by Jean-Marie Leclair. This work was excellently performed by concertmaster Ralitsa Macheva (violin), Cecilla Di Cecco (cello) and David Smith (harpsichord).

Leclair, who was a master violin teacher and performer, was found stabbed to death in 1764. Although his murder remains a mystery, there is a suspicion that his ex-wife may have been behind it. Her motivation - financial gain.

Completing the French contribution to the programme was the light and cheerful Les Caractères de la Danse by Jules Féry Rebel, an innovative baroque composer and violinist. In 1720, a new form of dance, called Ballet D’Acton made its appearance in France. It dispensed with masks and elaborate costumes and wigs, and relied more on gestures, and dance and the music to tell a story. Rebel’s Les Caractères de la Danse proved be very popular and was in performed in London in 1725 under the baton of George Frideric Handel.

Handel was, in fact, one of the two German composers who remained on the programme. His contribution was the rousing Sinfonia in B Major HWV 338.

The final item heard was German composer George Philipp Telemann’s Suite La Bizarre TWV 55:G2.  Telemann was a self-taught musician who was a multi-instrumentalist, and is regarded as the most prolific composer of all time.

La Bizarre is one of many orchestral suites written by Telemann. It has nine movements and is lively, spirited, captivating and unconventional.

Once again the Baroque 2000 ensemble delivered entertainment out of the top drawer and showed why attendance of their concerts should be a must for all lovers of baroque music.

The next Baroque 2000 concert will take place at the Church of the Monastery at Mariannhill on November 6.

Baroque 2000 is sponsored by Die Rupert Musiekstigting. For more information, contact Michel Schneuwly on 031 312 5539 or 082 303 5241 or email: – Keith Millar