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Early Music Concerts 2010-2011

Early Music Concerts 2010-2011: (US) Philharmonia Baroque Does Strange and Wonderful (Review By Jonathan Rhodes Lee) (2010 11 05)

Contributed by Admin on Nov 11, 2010

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Concerto grosso ... Vivaldi’s Four Seasons ... “Pre-classic” music — these terms are probably enough to send a seasoned classical music fan running for the hills. They tend to conjure up advertising soundtracks, bargain basement recordings, and, above all, generic interpretations. But put this repertoire in the hands of expert interpreters and a seasoned period-instrument orchestra, and it soon becomes apparent why 18th-century audiences were hungry for orchestral repertoire by the bucket load. 

The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Music Director Nicolas McGegan breathed life into this music, in richly satisfying and often surprising ways, in San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre on Friday night. Their program opened with a concerto by Corelli from his Opus 6 set. Corelli may not have invented the concerto grosso, but he was probably the first composer to use the term in any formal way. His concertos also set the standard by which future concerti grossi were judged. The orchestra opened with one of the concertos that follow the sonata da camera (chamber sonata) model, a type of piece that consists of various dance movements. Although Corelli’s concertos of this type are ostensibly based on lighter dance movements than the more formidably contrapuntal concertos after the sonata da chiesa (church sonata) model, Corelli can never quite refrain from generating beautiful, imitative structures. McGegan coaxed a remarkably transparent sound from the ensemble, and all that delicate interplay came across with unusual clarity and finesse.

Please visit the San Francisco Classical Voice website to read the whole review.

Visit the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra website.