Review: International Baroque Players; Bury St Edmunds Festival; Apex; Sunday May 20

Demand for tickets forced a change of venue for this concert, and what a happy turn of events that was, because the relocation to the Apex enabled us to enjoy this late-morning concert in the excellent acoustic which has been widely acclaimed by visiting professional musicians.

A group formed in 2009 of young players from around Europe, and superbly led by violinist Johannes Pramsholer, this ensemble employs gut strings, short bows and minimum vibrato to create a more authentic Baroque sound – and what an attractive sound it is. The whole concert was characterised by a lively fresh vitality, along with great technical skill and precision. Four pieces in the programme were for four violins; the three Concertos by Telemann were written for his pupils to showcase each player in turn and develop their ensemble skills – and they proved an attractive and appropriate vehicle for this group’s violinists.

Pachelbel’s Canon in D was followed by the less well-known Gigue which goes with it. Works by Handel and Purcell provided diversity from the Baroque repertoire, and the Concerto in A minor (for four violins) by Robert Valentine introduced me to a new composer (a contemporary of Bach).

Employing typically Baroque features, such as melodic sequence and a strong rhythmic pulse, Valentine’s music lacked the depth of the better-known composers, but provided some interesting challenges as passages needing nimble finger-work were shared round the players, especially in the fourth movement.

Bach’s Concerto in D minor BWV1043 for two violins (better known to musicians as the ‘Bach Double’) rounded off the concert in style, played with a light touch by this young ensemble which will undoubtedly be one to watch in the future.

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Wynn Rees

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