Bowerbird Ensemble: Beautiful Baroque
St. John’s Church, Adelaide, 9 February 2015
Bowerbird Ensemble explores the depths of Baroque music

ONE can only marvel at the vast amount of music created in the Baroque era – and it is still being discovered.

A few years ago Christoph Graupner’s name was known only to a handful of specialists, but his music is gradually finding its way onto recordings and concert programs.

Full marks therefore to Bowerbird Ensemble for opening the program with Graupner’s Trio Sonata in B. It’s an odd, quirky piece of music – the recorder confines itself to making cuckoo calls throughout the first movement – but certainly intriguing. You can’t compare it to Bach, just like you can’t compare every painter to Raphael, but taken on its own merits it’s rewarding listening.

Bowerbird Ensemble is made up of three very fine musicians – veteran harpsichordist Glenys March, violinist Simone Slattery, and recorder player Brendan O’Donnell, and their programs are imaginative, enterprising and well thought-out.

This concert surveyed the three superpowers of Baroque music – Italy, France and Germany – who vied for musical supremacy in the 17th and 18th centuries. Apart from Graupner, Germany was represented by a Sonatina by the prolific Telemann, performed with crystal clarity and finesse by Brendan O’Donnell. A single delightful morsel from the keyboard suites of Francois Couperin, played with style and sensibility by Glenys March, took us to France. Lully’s Trios for putting the king to bed (the king being Louis XIV) provided a further delightful excursion into the rarefied world of the French Royal court.

Altogether more robust in tone were two Italian works. Veracini’s Variations in the famous La Folia tune were an occasion for a superb display of virtuosity by violinist Simone Slattery, matched by Glenys March at the harpsichord.

The concert concluded with a fine performance of a Trio Sonata by the prodigious Vivaldi, who wrote more music than the world has time to listen to.

A brief Scottish-Italian hybrid by Barsanti was a charming encore to this most enjoyable concert.

Stephen Whittington, The Advertiser, 11 February 2015