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Monday, May 8, 2023



(Right: Dr Eric Dippenaar)

All in all, a memorable performance to end an excellent concert. (Review by Keith Millar)

For the second concert of their 2023 series, Baroque 2000 welcomed the celebrated Cape Town harpsichordist, Dr Eric Dippenaar, as soloist.

Dippenaar is currently artistic director of the Cape Town Baroque Orchestra, artistic director of the annual Cape Town Baroque Festival, and a part-time lecturer in Western music history and historical performance practice at the University of Cape Town.

His contribution to the concert was the Concerto for Harpsichord in D minor BMV 1052 by Johann Sebastian Bach and the Organ Concerto in F, Op4 No4, HMV 292 by George Frederic Handel.

Also on the programme was the Overture to George Frederic Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Caesar in Egypt). This brief overture is written in the French style despite the opera being Italian. It was an agreeable and quite cheerful start to the concert.

We also heard Jean Féry Rebel’s Les Caractéres de la Danse. Ballet was an essential component of French opera during the 17th and 18th centuries. Frey’s composition displays the character of French dance with several styles represented. It was played with gusto and energy by the ensemble and was very well received by the audience.

The Café Zimmermann was the coffeehouse in Leipzig which formed the backdrop to the first performances of many of Bach's secular cantatas and instrumental works. Coffeehouses were the favoured music venues of the time. It would have been at this venue that Bach’s Concerto for Harpsichord in D Minor would have first seen the light of day. The work may have originally been composed for violin and then transcribed later for harpsichord. This would explain the highly virtuosic nature of the music.

Dippenaar performed the work with consummate skill and musicality. His interaction with the ensemble was tangible and led to a very satisfying performance. It was really interesting to hear the harpsichord taking a leading role rather than playing in support of the orchestra, as it mostly does.

Handel’s Organ Concerto performed today is one of a set of six composed to serve as interlude music during the performance of oratorios at Covent Garden. They were the first ever written for this combination of chamber organ and orchestra.

It was a little disconcerting initially to hear an orchestra in front of you and the pipe organ sound from the back, but the exuberance and skill of the performers soon put paid to that.

Other than some noisy mechanical noises, Dippenaar extracted an excellent sound from the Church of Mariannhill Monastery’s old pipe organ. All in all, a memorable performance to end an excellent concert.

The next Baroque 2000 concert will take place on June 4, 2023. For more information contact Michel on 0823035241.

Baroque 2000 is sponsored by Die Rupert Musiekstigting.