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Corelli Concerto Grosso in D, Op.6 No.1 Vivaldi Concerto in D minor for two violins and cello, Op.3, No.11 Bach Brandenburg Concerto No.5
Handel Concerto Grosso in B flat, Op.6 No.7 Vivaldi Flute Concerto in G minor, La Notte Geminiani Concerto Grosso, La Follia

OAE/Margaret Faultless director/violin [pictured]
Lisa Beznosiuk flute Steven Devine harpsichord

Kings Place, London 17 September 2009

This was an interesting evening, beginning after work at 6.30 with a well attended partnership between the core group of OAE and the acoustic marvel of Kings Place Hall One.

The three items comprising the first concert were well contrasted and filled the allocated 45 minutes exactly. Although OAE was "led from the violin" excellently by the eponymous Margaret Faultless, one might have thought that Steven Devine was in charge, so eye catching is his body movement and attentive gesturing at the harpsichord. The high point of this concert, and of the whole evening, was undoubtedly Bach's amazing Brandenburg No 5. The harpsichord, with its busy passage work, was subsumed in the texture of the whole at first, but later in the first movement the strings fell away, leaving it alone in all its glory, Devine rising to virtuoso heights in the long cadenza (as we'd call it) which is more spectacular than those in the actual harpsichord concertos.

In that first movement Liza Beznosiuk's mellow baroque flute was disconcertingly quiet; for the trio slow movement and the finale, her companion soloists appeared to fine down their tone to accommodate her and make for a better balance; for us, seeing her playing was a help for the ears. There were eight microphones deployed, which BBC engineers fussed around between the items, adjusting them from time to time; balance will probably have been tweaked in the flute's favour for the future R3 broadcast.

During the longish interval before the second concert a score of people went to hear Margaret Faultless give an interesting survey of the rise of the concerto form during the Baroque era, with reference to the evening’s programmes and the similar one next day. Anywhere else in London, that would have been a free event.

The second group of concertos, ending with Geminiani's version of the ubiquitous La Follia, amounted to but forty minutes of music (no encore) and was less successful than the earlier concert, for which the audience was probably swelled by people coming after work. It saw the audience halved, dispiriting for the players surely? The explanation must be the pricing structure, which caused some murmurings overheard amongst the audience - behind us "bite-sized concerts but big size cost"... After that, the three soloists moved out to the foyer where the bar was still open, and played some trio sonatas for The After-Show; that was free ! The total for the evening was up to £39.50 but with Saver Seat deals, those only for online booking...

Peter Grahame Woolf