Violinist Rachel Podger with Brecon Baroque

Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque

Malvern Theatres


As summer hits the U.K. this weekend with record-setting temperatures, we were treated to a brilliant performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at Malvern last night. The Forum Theatre was substantially full for this highly talented ensemble.

The first half of the programme was devoted to three Vivaldi Sonatas, one for strings, one for the lute and the other for the harpsichord, punctuated with two of his other pieces. Vivaldi was assisted with some arrangements we gathered by the incomparable Bach himself. It is a rare privilege to hear the Theorbo Lute (Daniele Caminiti) and the Harpsichord (Martin Światkiewicz) featured in this way.

The second half of the concert was devoted to the hugely popular Le Quatri Stagione (the Four Seasons). Each was introduced by a poem, a sonnet, on that season read by Jan Spencer (Violone).

He read them in a clear voice and with a few comic asides before the four violin concertos themselves which starred the highly acclaimed virtuoso Rachel Podger, who also skilfully conducted the ensemble.

The passion and vivacity of her creative performance were spell-binding. She was supported most excellently by all the other musicians, including Sabine Stoffer and Kinga Ujszászi (violins), Jane Rogers (viola) and Alison McGillivray (cello). The energy and contrasting moods were brought out expressively.

The sounds and sights of each season – the ‘flowing creeks, singing birds, barking dogs, buzzing mosquitoes, crying shepherds, drunken dancers, silent nights, hunting parties, frozen landscapes, ice-skating children and warming winter fires’ -  were captured in creative ways that all contributed to a festival of rich baroque music, capped by an encore at the end.

This concert is proceeding to the Stour Festival in Kent and then to the Wigmore Hall in London in the next few days.  It was a delightful musical treat.

Timothy Crow


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