Concert 7. Wednesday 4 April 2012 8pm Print

 

BROOK STREET BAND with NICKI KENNEDY (Sop.)

Handel

‘Coelestis dum spirat aura’ HWV 231

Bach JS

Trio Sonata in D minor BWV 527

Handel

La Lucrezia (Dramatic Cantata – Soprano & Continuo)

Bach JS

Trio Sonata in C BWV 529

Handel

Trio Sonata in D op.5 no.2

Handel

‘O Qualis de coelo sonus’ (Sacred Motet) HMV 239

 

 

The Brook Street Band has rapidly established itself as one of the country’s foremost interpreters of Handel’s music. The name comes from the street in London’s Mayfair where Handel lived and composed for much of his working life.   Nicki Kennedy has a warm voice of considerable agility and flexibility. This, coupled with a sparkling personality, great musicality and linguistic ability has made her a favourite with audiences. 

 

"The Brook Street Band has a delightfully light touch, never solemn, and they are beautifully complemented here by the clear Baroque soprano of Nicki Kennedy . . .”  HMV Choice 

 

“. . . the icing on Brook Street Cake . . . it was soprano Nicki Kennedy’s accounts of a clutch of works by Handel and Vivaldi that worthily captured the packed audience’s affections.”  David Sonin / Ham & High

 

  

CONCERT REVIEW

 

Baroque Music Comes Alive Again at the Ilkley Concert Club

 

After last year's very dispiriting baroque concert it was a relief to experience one where the players communicated so well with their audience both in their performance approach and in their brief spoken introductions.

 

The three purely instrumental items were played stylishly and with evident enjoyment, no po-faced purity here! The Bach pieces were arrangements of two of his organ trio sonatas which in theory should work well, but I was not entirely convinced by the change of instrumentation despite the enthusiastic advocacy of the playing. The Handel trio sonata which engagingly recycles music he'd written earlier was originally conceived for strings; it felt more idiomatic and was given a lively performance.

 

The undoubted star of the show was the soprano Nicki Kennedy. The counter-tenor James Bowman when asked to comment on the difference between Bach and Handel replied 'As a singer, Handel's always on your side'. He understood singers and his music provides a vehicle for his virtuoso singers to demonstrate their skill and musicality to the full; Nicki Kennedy made the most of the challenges offered her.

 

The two Handel Italian Motets were sung with warmth and joy, especially in their final Alleluja sections and the concert's Gloria encore. She has superb vocal control, she sang complex runs of notes with pin-point accuracy, her breath control is remarkable and her tone full and generous. Her rapport with the violinists (whose part often interwove with her solo line) was infectious bringing the sunlight into what had been a drab and cold day outside.

 

But the centre piece of the concert, Handel's extraordinarily operatic cantata La Lucrezia was the highlight of the evening. With an accompaniment of just cello and harpsichord Handel conjures up a whole world of vivid emotions that were powerfully projected through Nicki Kennedy's singing and expressive gestures. Those who followed the printed text in the programme missed so much, there was no need for translation from the Italian, her voice and body said it all.

 

G.K.

 

The following recordings were recommended in the programme:

 

Bach & Handel Trio Sonatas: The Brook Street band have made two excellent CDs covering these works. Bach's Trio Sonatas BWV 525-30 are on Avie AV 2199 (full price) and Handel's Op.5 Nos. 1-7 are on Avie AV 2068 (full price). The recording quality on both discs is superb.

 

Handel-La Lucrezia: This work is included on a very impressive disc of Handel's Italian Cantatas, performed by Magdalena Kozená (mezzo) and Les Musiciens du Louvre conducted by Marc Minkowski. Ms Kozená certainly brings out all the drama of the work and is very well recorded on Archiv 469 065-2 (full price). There is a critically aclaimed alternative with the late lamented Lorraine Hunt Lieberson on Avie AV 0030 (full price) where, as well as the Cantata, she sings arias from Handel's Theodora and Xerxes.


Handel-HWV 231 & 239: The ever reliable Emma Kirkby (soprano) with London Baroque include these works on a CD of Handel's Sacred Cantatas. BIS, as always, provide excellent recording quality and the performances are quite lovely on BIS-CD-1065 (full price)..

 

Raymond Waud

 

CLUB NOTES

 

AN APPRECIATION

 

David Pyett has decided to retire as Chairman of Ilkley Concert Club at the end of this Season. In building ICC to be one of the most successful concert promoters in the country, his contribution has been immense. He was invited onto the first committee when the club was formed on 8th April 1946 at an open meeting held at the Ilkley Playhouse.

 

David was elected Chairman of ICC in the 31st Season, so has held the post for an astonishing 36 years. When David became Chairman, Season Ticket sales had declined to 259 out a possible 476 and the Club was struggling to survive financially. Changes were made, and by the 38th Season all 476 Season tickets were sold before the first concert; this extraordinary record has continued to this day. The financial security that this implies allowed the committee under David's leadership to promote a series of concerts that are spoken of in awe by artists, agents and other concert promoters. Artists frequently comment on how exciting it is to play for such a large, attentive and knowledgeable audience.

 

What has been the magic that David brought to the Club as Chairman? A love of great music, well played by top quality artists; an unparalleled knowledge of music, artists and their recordings; an instinctive "marketing" brain coupled with a deep desire to understand and provide what the audience wants from the Club; a belief that nothing but the highest quality in every aspect of the Club's operation is worth aiming for; a talent for organisation coupled with extraordinary mental energy and vision; a natural friendliness that encourages other people to share what he loves dearly; and above all an incredible capacity for hard work, ably assisted and supported by his wife Margaret. It is has been a privilege to observe the skill, care and commitment with which David assembles each Season's programme. His act will be an extraordinarily difficult one to follow.

 

Fortunately we will not lose David's wisdom and skill, as he will continue to be a member of the Committee and be actively involved in programming. The ICC constitution provides for the election of a President, a very worthy figurehead for the Club, and in this case a hard working one too – just try to stop him! There will be a proposal to elect him to the position of President at the next AGM, as our constitution requires.

 

Thank you David Pyett, on behalf of Ilkley Concert Club.

 

David Wharmby, Vice-Chairman