FLORILEGIUM – Baroque Ensemble

Wednesday 11th December 2013

– Paris Quartet in D major
Handel – Trio Sonata in E minor
Marais – Le Sonnerie de Geneviève du Mont de Paris
Vivaldi – Concerto in D RV94
Leclair – Deuxième Recreation de Musique
Rebel – Les Caractères de la Danse
Telemann – Paris Quartet in E minor

Florilegium (flute, violin, viola da gamba, cello and harpsichord) are one of Britain’s outstanding period instrument ensembles. Regular performances in some of the world’s most prestigious venues have confirmed their status. Since their formation in 1991 they have established a reputation for stylish and exciting interpretations.

They play Baroque music from the European Courts in the early 18th Century. Handel and Vivaldi need little introduction. Telemann wrote his collection of Paris Quartets after encountering some outstanding French Musicians in Paris in the 1730s. The works by Marais, Leclair and Rebel contain numerous fashionable dances in vogue at the French Court at this time.


Unexpected Baroque Delights at the King’s Hall Ilkley

The byways (and some highways) of the baroque are not really ‘my bag’, so it was with a certain sense of duty that I attended this concert. But I had a great evening out, as I’m sure did the rest of the audience judging by their reaction to this very varied menu of unfamiliar music, most of which had never been heard before in the King’s Hall. Performances of early music can suffer from a didactic po-faced approach, but not when the happy band Florilegium is in town. All star performers in their own right together they make an awesomely talented ensemble.

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They began with a Telemann Paris Quartet which show-cased Ashley Solomon’s deft flute playing, There is less French polish in the Handel Trio Sonata that followed, but both these works contain many brief movements, a problem for programming if a sense of short-windedness is to be avoided. The Marais Bells of St Genevieve dispelled this, an extended and obsessive workout for the bass viol that Reiko Ichise responded to feistily. The concluding Vivaldi concerto featured much lively interplay between the players, with violinist Jean Paterson’s joyous contribution especially noteworthy.

Much baroque music was written as background music and the Leclair suite that opened the second half may well be an example, delightful but despite the best efforts of the players it didn’t work for me in a formal concert setting. The Rebel Suite that followed was a revelation. A kind of musical switch, twelve movements skilfully interlinked with varied instrumentation and lasting under ten minutes, was captivating.

The concert ended with another Telemann Paris Quartet. This was far more interesting musically than the one we’d heard earlier, and it gave cellist Jennifer Morsches a chance to demonstrate her skill and expressivity. The final very tender chaconne was surprise ending to a remarkable concert. A second surprise came with the cheeky encore in which harpsichordist Terence Charlston, who’d discreetly supported the players throughout the evening had the last word.


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Recommended Recordings


Where Florilegium have recorded the items in tonight’s concert they can be purchased with confidence. Some recommended alternatives are listed below.

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There is a very good recording of the original and revised Paris Quartets by Musica ad Rhenum, conducted by Jed Wentz on Brilliant Classics 93649 (3 discs for the price of 1 medium price CD).


The Opus 5 Trio Sonatas, which include the one in e minor, are performed by The London Handel Players on SOMMCD 044 (full price).


This piece is included on a disc of works by Marais and Sainte-Colombe, performed by Spectre de la Rose on Naxos 8.550750 (upper budget price).


Collegium Pro Musica perform Vivaldi’s Chamber Concertos on an excellent Brilliant Classics set 94332 (3 discs for the price of 1 medium price CD).


The complete Flute Chamber Music, which includes tonight’s piece, is performed by a group including Fenwick Smith (flute) on Naxos 8.557440-41 (2 discs at budget price). The performances and recording quality are excellent.


The Palladian Ensemble perform this work on a superbly recorded Linn CD – CKD100 (full price). The disc also includes works by Le Moine, Marais and Couperin.

Raymond Waud.

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