Harpischord concert a resounding success

The Woodbridge Concerts, Christine Whiffen - harpsichord, Sunday April 27 2008It's not often you get the chance to hear a full-length solo harpsichord recital, still less to hear two magnificent harpsichords, as we did on Sunday afternoon, when a very appreciative audience was treated to internationally renowned but Suffolk-based Christine Whiffen's performance of a tremendously varied programme.

The Woodbridge Concerts, Christine Whiffen - harpsichord, Sunday April 27 2008

It's not often you get the chance to hear a full-length solo harpsichord recital, still less to hear two magnificent harpsichords, as we did on Sunday afternoon, when a very appreciative audience was treated to internationally renowned but Suffolk-based Christine Whiffen's performance of a tremendously varied programme.

Orlando Gibbons's vocal music is well known, so it was delightful to hear some of his complex and virtuosic keyboard music, especially the beautiful 'Earl of Salisbury' pavane. Next up was Rameau - his ferociously demanding A minor suite, which featured astonishing hand-crossings, repeated notes, delicate ornaments and, in the concluding Gavotte and Variations, torrents of semiquavers in a rich palette of sound.

The second half opened with the more familiar Handel, a short Suite in A from his earlier years, and then by contrast a twentieth century work, Louis Andriessen's 'Overture to Orpheus', in which the harpsichordist picked her way through a delicate soundscape of wintry colours, enlivened by subtle shifts of rhythm and phrase.

The climax of the afternoon was a set of character pieces by Forqueray, which utilised the lower reaches of the very fine instrument as well as unleashing a limitless variety of texture. The set ended with the finest performance of the chaconne 'La Morangis ou La Plissay' one could hope to hear, in which every detail of part-writing was illuminated within an irresistible rhythmic drive: a perfect ending to a truly outstanding concert.

Michael Streat

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