Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

English Concert at Library of Congress

Web-only review:

Starry English Concert rivets with Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Handel
by Joe Banno

When the veteran period-instrument ensemble the English Concert dug into Vivaldi's "La Follia" Trio Sonata at its Library of Congress program Thursday, this customarily elegant group seemed to be channeling the brasher, more risk-taking approach of many Italian period-instrument bands, with boisterous attacks, daringly elastic phrasing, extravagant ornamentation and even some drumming on the double-bass. If ensemble unity was pushed to its limits, conductor Harry Bicket made sure the improvisatory verve didn't undermine cohesion.

Early-music celebrity violinist (and former English Concert member) Rachel Podger held focus here with her silvery tone and commanding virtuosity, as she did in Vivaldi's "Il Grosso Mogul" Violin Concerto. Her harmonically exploratory, third movement cadenza sounded freshly composed on the spot, and her dreamy, exotically pitch-bent treatment of the concerto's slow movement (against very Middle Eastern-sounding color from the droning bass and skittering arpeggios on the lutes) proved an atmospheric delight.

The ensemble was its more restrained self in a spare reading of a Vivaldi cello concerto (with Jonathan Manson the eloquent and warm-toned soloist) and in quietly supportive work in Monteverdi's "Lamento d'Arianna" and Handel's "O numi eterni" Cantata. Both solo dramatic works are tailor-made for the superb mezzo, Alice Coote (who returns to D.C. for a Vocal Arts Society recital on Nov. 4). The qualities that make her such a distinctive performer - the bittersweet tang and tragic weight in the tone, the dark and forthright chest voice, the emotional candor in her phrasing - ensured that the Monteverdi and Handel (as well as a vividly inflected set of Dowland songs) were riveting experiences.

-- Joe Banno

By Anne Midgette  | October 18, 2010; 8:40 AM ET
Categories:  local reviews  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Link: Eschenbach, Mahler, and the NSO
Next: Link: BSO in the capable hands of a teen


My thoughts on this extremely entertaining concert:

Posted by: Lindemann777 | October 18, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company