Dunedin Consort
Perth Concert Hall
Keith Bruce
four stars
THE lunchtime concert version of the Dunedin Consort’s current tour of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos is still rather more than snack-size, even if it does not do the whole sequence that Edinburgh heard on Saturday. With dates in America next week adding a couple of Cantatas with contralto Meg Bragle, and a concert in Madrid still to come, a lot of music has been rehearsed for these half dozen dates.
A shuffling of the programme presented in Perth on Monday meant that the audience left singing the very tuneful Brandenburg No.4 on which a pair of recorders have the best tunes. First fiddle Cecilia Bernardini was the real star, however, with some lightening-fast fingering and speedy bowing in the opening and closing movements.
Director John Butt explained the moving of the Fifth Brandenburg to open the concert in terms of the substantial harpsichord part he was to play himself, and the desire to do that when the instrument was in best tune. Although there seemed no dramatic deterioration in its pitch, that work does indeed have plenty to keep its player away from conducting duties. The solo at the end of the opening Allegro perfectly tees up the central “Affettuoso” movement which is a trio on which the keyboard was joined by Bernardini’s violin and the flute of Katy Bircher. It is as fine an example of Johann Sebastian making a delicious meal of the simplest ingredients as there is, and was followed by a joyous brisk finale by way of dessert.
Between the two Brandenburgs were a Trio Sonata, with Jonathan Manson’s cello joining the Bach party, and then Telemann’s Concerto for Flute and Recorder, which added Laszlo Rozas on recorder. In the former the plangency of the two slow movements was intertwined with the multi-rhythmic fast ones, during which each player has a distinct beat.
By contrast, the Telemann was the work most concerned with the group playing “in concert”, with the subtle variations in tone and similarity in pitch of the wind instruments sometimes set against simple continuo of keyboard and cello. The complexity and virtuosity came at the end in a spirited race to the last bar.