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Tuesday, May 9, 2017


An enriching morning of cheerful music played with great skill and spirit. (Review by Keith Millar)

After a successful stint at the Harare International Festival of Arts in Zimbabwe, where they were the invited to be the resident orchestra and perform four concerts, Durban’s celebrated Baroque 2000 ensemble returned to the Mariannhill Monastery Church on last Sunday to present their May concert.

This year the ensemble is celebrating 20 years of making fine music together and yesterday’s concert certainly contributed to the celebrations as they performed an enchanting, cheerful and very entertaining concert, featuring music by Handel, Telemann and Biber.

George Frideric Handel’s contribution to the programme was his Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 1 in G major.

Handel started using his concertos as intermission music during his oratorios in 1735. In 1739, in a period of just five weeks, he composed a set of 12 Grand Concertos which included the piece played at this concert. The music may have been written in a hurry and to be used as a filler, but it is quite glorious in its own right. Cheerful and lyrical, it was played with aplomb by the ensemble and set the tone for the rest of the concert.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644 – 1704) was a Bohemian-Austrian composer and violinist. He is regarded as one of the most important composers for the violin of all time. During his lifetime, his music was known and imitated throughout Europe.

In 1673 he wrote Battalia a 9, a programmatic "battle" piece. This fascinating composition is in eight short movements. Each of which depicts a phase of the battle, from its preparation to its aftermath. The graphic and descriptive music is enhanced with the inclusion of unusual effects such as foot stomping, violent plucking of strings, and the tapping of bows against the bows on the bodies of the instruments to create unusual rhythms. It proved to be an exciting and very listenable piece of music.

There were two pieces of music from Georg Philipp Telemann on the programme. The first was the Concerto for Viola in G Major. This allowed Baroque 2000 stalwart, violist David Snaith, the opportunity to feature his considerable skills with this this rich, dark-toned instrument. He gave an inspiring performance of the splendid music.

Completing the programme was Telemann’s wonderful Burlesque – Don Quixote suite. This light-hearted piece is as every bit as eccentric and humorous as the famous novel which Telemann used as inspiration for the work. It was a fitting conclusion to an enriching morning of cheerful music played with great skill and spirit by the Baroque 2000 orchestra.

The next Baroque 2000 concert will take place on June 4 and will feature the talented harpsichordist from Cape Town, Eric Dippenaar. Thereafter the Baroque 2000 ensemble will take a two month break.

They return on September 3 with a very special and popular guest soloist in violinist Joanna Frankel, previous concertmaster of the KZNPO.

Tickets for Baroque 2000 concerts are R150 at the door. Also, note that the Monastery tea garden will be open, and that there is ample free and safe parking the venue

For any queries about concerts, or for bookings, contact the Baroque 2000 Director, Michel Schneuwly on 031 312 5539 or 082 303 5241 or email – Keith Millar