Rachel Podger: Baroque violin recital – the second Coffee Concert 2013 – 2014 a second review

The Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, 10 November 2013

Children and young people from ages 8-25 can now listen and watch chamber music for no charge in the Brighton Coffee Concerts.  The series joint organisers Strings Attached have been accepted into the CAVATINA scheme that makes available a limited number of free seats at Coffee Concerts in the series.

Ticket booking information is available from stringsattachedmusic.org.uk and by emailing the Strings Attached membership secretary. The free seats commence on December  15 when the remarkably popular Heath Quartet return to The Corn Exchange and Dome to play Schubert’s electrifying Quartettsatz in C minor, Sir Michael Tippet’s  fourth quartet and Beethoven’s eighth,  his Razumovsky in E Minor.

The news of this breakthrough in concert access for youngsters came at the Coffee Concert given by The Dome in association with Strings Attached and, on this special date within its 2013 programme, the Brighton Early Music Festival. It featured one of the British world stars of period violin playing, Rachel Podger.

She has attracted a string of awards and achievements after completing education in Germany and Guildhall School of Music & Drama and joining The Palladian Ensemble and Florilegium. Already quickly under her belt were the leadership of crack Baroque and Classical period ensemble The English Concert (1997-2000) and a guest directorship of two other world-fronting outfits, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Academy of Ancient Music.

Abroad have come other guest directorships in Poland, Holland and the US, plus award-garnering recordings, chair-holding memberships of The Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and she artistically directs her own Breckon Baroque Festival. Some career already, and she scarcely looks a day older than 30.

All smiles and information, she graced another in-the-round seated Corn Exchange audience in which Brighton Early Music Festival fans joined hands with Coffee Concert ones. Matching her profusion of golden hair were a cream top with gathered cuffs a-glitter, a long golden silk skirt, and exotic bejewelled Egyptian-style sandals.

It was a concentrated programme of music from JS Bach and his contemporary stars of the violin and its music − fellow German, Johann Georg Pisendel (a solo Sonata); the Italians, Guiseppe Tartini (Sonatas in B minor and A minor) and Nicola Matteis; a Swede, Johan Helmich Roman ( an essay  or experiment); and the Austrian, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber.

The music was all from her forthcoming 2014 solo disc, The Guardian Angel, which was the published title of her closing Passacaglia by Biber.

She comprehensively and engagingly introduced each piece. Fresh from giving a masterclass the previous evening at Brighton College on the BREMF programme, she made it so easy to enjoy nearly two hours in her illuminating company in what was an experience akin to a richly informative and instructive domestic entertainment.

The daughter of a flautist, it was her father practising Bach’s A minor Partita for the wind instrument that aroused her curiosity and realisation that she could make her own solo string arrangement of it in the more suitable key of G minor. This she played after giving her own DIY suite of short Matteis dances, airs and preludes, whose spontenaiety and individual inventiveness were characteristic of this composer who extended violin technique, Podger told us, during the reign of England’s Charles II.

The closing Biber, also in G minor, comprised a downward, four-note bass of primary simplicity repeated 67 times, according to one of her students blessed with the concentration to count all the way through. Podger’s introductory words came with a demonstration, of the bass part, which meant we heard it a 68th.

We were in the delightful hands of a world expert with more than enough charm, enthusiasm and sense of fun to make her audience heartily seek out her next concert or broadcast performance.

 

Richard Amey

republished with permission from The Worthing Herald