Concerto Copenhagen reviewed in the Manly Daily

Steve Moffat, The Manly Daily
28 June 2011

Trivia question: Which finger uses the most keys on a standard bassoon? Answer: The left thumb.

That being the case, Australian virtuoso Jane Gower’s sinister first digit was given a prodigious workout when she performed two wrist-cracking concertos in this latest concert in the Musica Viva series.

Gower and compatriot recorder genius Genevieve Lacey are the soloists for this tour with Danish Baroque band Concerto Copenhagen under its live-wire artistic director and harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen.

Both Australian women have strong links to Denmark. Gower performed at the royal wedding in 2008. Lacey speaks the language fluently and has been a regular collaborator with Concerto Copenhagen.

This concert started with a smile when the 10-strong ensemble played Telemann’s witty and delightful Don Quixote suite, which vividly captures such episodes from Cervantes’ tale as the tilt at the windmills and contrasts the galloping gaits of the knight’s horse Rosinante and Sancho Panza’s donkey.

Directing from the keyboard, Mortensen proved an energetic leader, smiling at his lead violin Fredrik From and gesticulating at his troops – six violins, a viola, cello and double bass-sized violone deftly handled by Nicholas Papp.

Vivaldi provided the showpieces for the two solo instruments – he wrote several bassoon concertos and for this concert the audience was treated to the dramatic and lightning-speed passages of the C minor RV480.

By way of complete contrast Lacey brought on the smallest of her recorder collection for the joyful and popular Piccolo Flute concerto in C major.

From featured heavily in Handel’s B flat Sonata a 5 and Gower and Lacey performed accompanying roles in the curiosity of the evening – a suite by the “father of Swedish music” Johan Helmich Roman, who played in Handel’s orchestra in London.

Telemann’s double concerto for recorder and bassoon, the only work to be performed on both programs for this tour, brought the night to a rousing finish with the two woodwind soloists duelling heroically.

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