Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Brecon Beacons at Union Quay: East Cork Early Music Festival 2012

Brecon  Ensemble with director Rachel Podger at Curtis Auditorium Cork photo John Finn

Following fast on the heels of the IBO's  tour of the Bach Goldberg Variations, an opportunity to hear another top notch Baroque ensemble presented itself  at the East Cork Early Music Festival   . The   Brecon Ensemble's concert at the Curtis Auditorium, Cork topped the bill on Thursday night with their acclaimed  director, Rachel Podger.

I was just in time to catch the second half,  featuring a Bach harpsichord concerto and an energetic Vivaldi  concerto featuring very fine spirited ensemble playing from three violin soli and the famous Air in G to round it off.   A single viola , a  cello (spikeless) and violone  completed this baroque ensemble.

There was healthy house for a midweek evening and the many aficionados included members from both the RTE Academica and Van Brugh Quartets. The audience lingered in the foyer to discuss the finer points of th evening. I missed the Bach concerti but  the superlatives were flying around the foyer cognoscenti.  (You can get a flavour in the video below.)


Rachel Podger  John Finn Photograpy
Lunchtime Baroque Violin Recital at UCC

The Aula Max in  UCC with its vaulted timbered ceiling and latticed  lining of  bookshelves seemed altogether a  more suitable venue for a  Baroque programme and it was good to see the venue  full to near capacity  for a daytime solo violin  recital by Rachel Podger. In the absence of  printed  programme notes, she introduced the pieces herself in lovely clearly enunciated tones which I always feel has more impact and helps to establish the friendly rapport between  the performer and audience. Smiling broadly, she  projected a very sunny disposition.

Aula Max at UCC
 She  began with a Telemann Fantasia  and concluded with the Bach Partita in D minor , with a piece by Biber  as a filling She made a case for violinists to perform the final ciacconna as part of the complete partita rather than  as a stand alone piece.  While the playing was very elegant and precise, the lightness of touch in the dance movements particularly the giga, gave me the more pleasure Even in  her highly skillfull hands all those 4 string crossings might sound ok on richer register of cello but  seem to  go on for much longer than the 13 min duration and sound too much like a  very long study for my taste.   Overall  my impression was that Podger's style seemed a little more genteel than Huggett's more rumbustious delivery.

Modern day vs period instruments is a hot debating point in music forums.  While the period instruments sound more mellow, would enjoy these performers just as much on modern day instruments? I believe I would. East Cork Early Music Festival is celebrating 10 years of bringing  luminary performers in this field to Cork county. I commend them on this achievement and look forward to future performances.

   Venue Notes The Curtis Auditorium while very comfortable and acousticaly sound,  is not an intimate auditorium and with the house lights remaining up throughout the evening, the attention to period detail in instrumentation was not echoed in the lighting . It would aid concentration to have house lights dimmed and warmer more mellow lighting on stage.

Final bows  photo John Finn

Link to BBC3 Early Music Show / featuring the Brecon Ensemble

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Nice, I would love to witness a music festival during our holidays at cottage brecon beacons. It's a nice event.