Review: Snape Proms, Britten-Pears Baroque Orchestra/Beznosiuk, Snape Maltings, August 24

The Britten-Pears Orchestra’s Wednesday Prom was a celebration of string instrumental music originating in Rome in the second half of the 17th century, and especially of the music of Corelli, whose 12 Concerti Grossi Opus 6, as well as exercising a profound influence on other composers, have proved so popular from that day to this.

Under the direction of the distinguished baroque violinist, Pavlo Beznosuik, the BPBO performed an excellently balanced programme of Concerti Grossi and Trio Sonatas by Corelli and his contemporaries.

Contrasts between a concertino,a small body of strings: two violins and continuo, and ripieno, a larger body are a fundamental demand of the Concerto Grosso form. Beznosiuk organised his forces with the concertino and tutti continuo-harpsichord and no less than four theorbos, in the centre of the platform, with ripieno violins on the left, violas and second violins on the right and bass behid the continuo. Even with such small forces, it filled the large Maltings stage with visually spectacular and acoustically brilliant results.

Unfamiliar works included a Sinfonia by Stradella, one of the earliest examples of the concerto grosso style, and one by Carlo Ambrogio Lonati. In the Lonati, theorbo as continuo, in place of the usual cello, beautifully played by James Holland, enhanced the delicate beauty of the slow movement.

Handel was the other giant in the programme, represented by a Trio Sonata in G minor and a Sonata a 5, five parts intstead of the usual four, the first violin part despatched by Beznosuik with the same brilliance he brought to everything. He injected a dynamism and vitality to each work, his virtuosity matched by all the instrumentalists who shared the concertino, notably the cellist, Vladimir Waltham,and all the orchestra,with whom he obviously has great rapport.

However, it was the musicof Corelli, especially the performances of four of the Opus 6 Concerti Grossi,music as fresh and impressive now as it must have been in his day that was the high point of the evening.What better tribute than the final work, a superb performanc of Gemaniani’s arrangement for Concerto Grosso of his old teacher’s violin sonata , La Folia.

Frank Cliff