Bach, Telemann &
Brecon Baroque at Wigmore Hall 22 December 2010
This group is associated with an annual festival at Brecon organised by Rachel Podger, who was not available for their London debut at tonight's Wigmore Hall concert.
It was a happy occasion, for us the best instrumental only baroque concert of the year.
The one-to-a-part line up was ideal for the Wigmore Hall stage and acoustic, and the soloists were within the group rather than featured protagonists. Standing to play made the players visible in the flat, unraked auditorium. One's ears quickly adjusted to how the harpsichord, and Pavlo Beznosiuk's violin, only gradually emerged as protagonists in the solo concertos; quite different an effect from the spotlighting of soloists usual in close miked studio CDs.
The Vivaldi triple violin concerto was especially welcome after two minor key Bach concertos. It is an extraordinary piece, featuring each of the violinists distinctively; Beznosiuk told us how he'd had to fashion a specifically required mute from his lead roof for the slow movement, in which Cici took the lead and Pramsohler strummed as if on a mandolin...
My illustration of members of the Brecon Baroque group is a still from Rachel Podger's YouTube intro to her new recording of Bach violin concertos made at St John the Evangelist Church, Upper Norwood; well balanced, but they're best heard only one or two at a time.
BACH: Double & Triple
Rachel Podger & Pavlo Beznosiuk recording Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Channel Classics CCSSA29309
Rachel Podger - Masterclass at Royal Academy of Music, London 17 January 2011
Rachel having not made it to her Brecon Baroque's debut at Wigmore Hall, her Baroque Violin class at the Royal Academy was an opportunity not to be missed.
A strenuous day, with eleven violinists alloted half-an-hour each, I sampled three lessons in the afternoon. Each student was very different in level and personality; all three responded appreciably to Rachel Podger's ideas and advice, communicated with zest and enthusiasm.
She used imagery, gesture and voice, moving athletically and to covey her feelings about Bach's six suites for solo violin; singing - only rarely illustrating a point on the violin - helping everyone present to expand their receptivity to Bach's imagination in the A major duo sonata (harpsichordist Masumi Yamamoto) and the G minor solo sonata, and enhancing the expressiveness of the music for the audience.
An inspiriting occasion, prompting the thought that a Rachel Podger class should definitely be added to The Masterclass Media Foundation collection of DVDs, some of them made at the Royal Academy in London.
Peter Grahame Woolf
After this RAM class I bought Rachel Podger's recording of the Bach Solo Suites & Sonatas [Channel Classics CCSSEL2498] and endorse this recommendation from BBC Record Review: Bach's six suites for solo violin are miraculous creations. And they've had a fascinating history on disc, with some of the 20th century's greatest violinists recording the set. But with the rise of the baroque specialist playing period instruments and alive to the latest scholarship, the kind of sounds and style of playing changed.
It's a delight - and now a week later, close on its heels, is a set from Pavlo Beznosiuk, Podger's frequent collaborator, recorded in a suitably resonant church acoustic on his Hofmans c. 1676 violin [Linn CDK 366].
It is a worthy addition to a field in which every top violinist seeks to leave his or her mark.
Invidious to attempt to choose, but every collection needs one or two versions of these iconic masterworks (I have about four...). Theirs are both desirable and neither will let you down.
Anna Michel (violinist of London Collective) adds: These are two superb interpretations of Bach's solo violin music, with Rachel Podger and Pavlo Beznosiuk both demonstrating exquisite phrasing. Pavlo’s CD, listened to first, set a high benchmark; however I soon fell in love with Rachel’s Channel Classics rendition which has taken the first place in my collection.
Pavlo Beznosiuk’s version for Linn sounds as if it has been recorded in an resonant church. His tone has an otherworldly quality; the almost metallic gut sound losing its harsh edge. In contrast Rachel Podger appears to have been recorded more closely; the smallest nuances in her playing figure and so her mellow and luscious tone sounds more intimate.
Rachel’s interpretations tend to sparkle more; her Preludio from the E major Partita has pizzaz, as does the B minor Partita’s second Double. Her variety of articulation comes across the better, her playing rich in beauty, exemplified by her mellifluous rendition of the Loure (E major Partita).
In contrast Pavlo makes the most of dance-like qualities, especially in the last Double ( B minor Partita) and the E major Partita’s Minuets where there is plenty rhythmic incision.
Both performers have mastered the art of decoration, Pavlo’s being particularly effective in the A minor Partita’s Andante and Rachel’s brightening the Gavotte en Rondeau (A minor partita). These players both prove that the baroque violin can be expressive.Pavlo’s recording leaves one with an impression of awe whereas listening to Rachel’s leaves a feeling of pure joy.
Both CDs deserve places in a collection