Baroque Philharmonia orchestra moves forward with live concert now and plans for the future
It’s not just restaurants that are going crazy for opening and closing with the ever-changing coronavirus restrictions. Consider the fate of musical organizations, especially Baroque orchestra and choir of the Philharmonie, who made plans for their first post-pandemic concert on June 11 at the Herbst Theater (the venue also in a “debut” comeback) at a time when San Francisco regulations called for 25% capacity.
As his heart leaped with joy upon returning to that favorite concert hall, he also felt pain at seeing the 200 or so spectators scattered around the 916-seat auditorium; most of the seats were blocked.
The difference was also evident on the stage where nine musicians stood, masked and socially distanced, performing music written for an orchestra twice the size. (The sequel “La Bizarre” by Telemann, for example, is written for strings and guitar, trumpet, organ, etc., but here the strings and a harpsichord did the job.) Under the name “Philharmonia Baroque” roughly characters on the program, a smaller type specified the “Philharmonia Baroque Chamber Players”.
Finally, the pandemic still made its presence known by preventing Richard Egarr’s long-delayed conductor debut as new musical director. He succeeds Nicholas McGegan More than a year ago, the trip then got in the way, and now a delay in vaccination made it impossible to travel from Amsterdam to San Francisco.
The organization and the lucky small public of the “substitution” of Lodge Augusta McKay, originally from Ohio and based in Paris, famous for his violin performances in Baroque literature and acting as the first violin of specialized orchestras in the period – including Les Arts Florissants, Teatro Nuovo, the American Classical Orchestra , Bach Akademie Charlotte, Ensemble Marguerite Louise, and others.
Lodge conducted ensemble performances with his violin throughout the evening, but also shone in solo roles such as Vivaldi’s Concerto for 2 Violins and Cello in D minor, RV 565, with Carla Moore and William Skeen .
Another example of Lodge’s self-effacing bravery is Valentini’s Concerto Grosso in A minor, Op. 7, No. 11, Largo’s hesitant opening notes preparing the progress of the work to the brilliance of Allegro closing assai.
The ensemble – besides those mentioned consisting of violinists Noah Strick and Katherine Kyme, violist Aaron Westman, double bassist Kristin Zoernig, David Tayler on theorbo and Hanneke van Proosdij on harpsichord – managed to make up for the small numbers and the distance between the musicians while playing with concentration and determination.
It might have taken a few minutes for the audience’s ears to adjust, but even Handel’s first – the Concerto Grosso in B flat major, Op. 6, # 7 – had a full sound, and the closing Largo and Hornpipe had the required large sweep. Ironically, from the 12 concertos op. 6, n ° 7 is the only written for large orchestra, the nine musicians of Philharmonia therefore had their work cut out for them.
If “sweep” could characterize the performance of the opening Allegro of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Strings in G minor, RV 157, “swing” could better apply to the performance of the closing movement. The syncope and the great rhythmic energy here recall the last stormy movement of “Summer” by Vivaldi. Four Seasons.
Another piece by Vivaldi, Sinfonia in B minor “Al Santo Sepolcro”, RV 169, impressed with its lyrical beauty.
The organization – with its eye on the whole orchestra and chorale – also makes the news by publishing its season 2021-2022 live shows.
Egarr will direct a season that begins with a tour of New York in July; stars Anthony Roth Costanzo, Davóne Tines and Julia Bullock in August; and the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale which performs Schumann’s Requiem. Christmas brings Bach Christmas Oratorio, and Egarr also conducted Bach’s Mass in B minor gala concert with a featured cast and Juliard415 – which will be played at Lincoln Center ahead of the Bay Area performances.
Alternative programs include SESSIONS with creative partner Davóne Tines and composer in residence Tarik O’Regan; Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and Roslyn Barak appearing in “Jews and Music”; and a final show of a complete staging by Handel Radamisto with Iestyn Davies.