Review: Concerts at Cratfield, Ensemble Diderot, August 28

Ensemble Diderot is a period instrument group whose core repertoire is the baroque trio sonata; in their case consisting of two violins, cello and harpsichord. Founded in 2008, it is a fairly recent arrival on the period music scene, and, on a first visit to Cratfield, their scrupulous approach to period music was, for the most part, impressive.

In the first work, the Trio Sonata in D minor Wq 145 by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, their playing was precise,rhythmically vibrant, and with well judged tempi. This was one of three works in the programme which appeared originally in the catalogue of J.S.Bach’s Opus,with the number BWV 1036, but is now attributed to his second son, though it seemed to possess little of the idiosyncratic style one associates with Carl Philipp Emanuel.

Next, three works indisputably by J.S.Bach. Cellist Tomasz Pokrzywinski adopted a somewhat lightweight approach to the first Suite for Unaccompnied Cello,ommiting several repeats and adopting tempi, even if regarded as authentic, seemed to rob the music of its line,notably in the final gigue. By contrast, first violin Johannes Pramsohler’s performance of the Sonata in A,BWV 1015 ws superb, with great beauty of tone and line, and partnered excellently by harpsichordist Marcin Swiaktiewicz,the latter equally fine in a Ricercar from A Musical Offering; a three part fugue on the “Royal Theme” of Frederick the Great.

Second violin Ania Nowak’s reading of the Sonata in C minor, now attributed to Johann Georg Pisendel, was very fine , and if she did’nt quite match Pramsohler’s beauty of tone ,there was a fullness to her sound well suited to this work. Finally, a Trio Sonata in C, now thought to be by Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, possibly the first performer of the variations which bear his name: a charming work with a splendid final gigue.

An enjoyable afternoon of stylish and scholarly performance

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Frank Cliff

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