Jaunty, angelic ode to Baroque

Reviewed by Martin DuffySara Macliver Insta

Academy Of Ancient Music &  Sara Macliver, Melbourne Recital Centre, November 12

Celebrating its 40th anniversary year, the Academy of Ancient Music under director Richard Egarr was joined by soprano Sara Macliver for the final concert of Musica Viva’s season.

Opening the program was 17th-century English theatre music united thematically by texts from Shakespeare. Matthew Locke’s instrumental music from The Tempest defies stylistic preconceptions of the Baroque featuring some strange and unsettling harmonies, wandering melodic lines and curious dissonance.

A suite from Purcell’s The Fairy-Queen featured arias from Macliver interspersed with jaunty instrumental dances. Macliver’s gentle characterisation of When I Have Often Heard was well suited, but best was the restraint of the moving The Plaint (O Let me Weep) and See, Even Night Herself is Here.

Thomas Arne’s brief overture No. 6 in B flat major and the sinfonia from Handel’s Saul demonstrated the band’s performance style through fast bow, antiphonal entries, slowly resolving dissonance, sharp ensemble that retains degrees of freedom internally and a marvellous, often playful energy.

Macliver’s pitching and phrasing were near flawless in Handel arias including the beautiful, sorrowful interplay with oboist Frank de Bruine in Ah! spietato.

Let the Bright Seraphim saw trading of articulations and ornamentation with trumpeter David Blackadder, a contest continued in Eternal Source of Light Divine.

This article originally appeared in the Age on November 14, 2013 at;  http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/music/jaunty-angelic-ode-to-baroque-20131113-2xgv7.html#ixzz2kx4UmPQm

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