VIAF 2014

An impeccable and polished performance by Musica Poetica London

On Sunday 29th June in the evening, we were very lucky to have with us Musica Poetica London who specialize in French Baroque music performance. Oliver John Ruthven (harpsichord), Claudia Norz (violin) and Kate Conway (viola da gamba) gave an exquisite performance of works by Rameau and his contemporaries.

Originally formed as a quartet at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, London, their performances have been praised for their “constantly upbeat brilliance and dynamism” [], and the Trio is quickly gaining a reputation for energetic and communicative interpretations of repertoire from Monteverdi to Mozart, performed on period instruments.

There is something exquisitely polished about their playing, refined and elegant. This was immediately evident Jean-Baptiste-Féry Rebel’s first work on the programme, namely, Sonata no. 6 in B Minor, a showcase of virtuosity, technically-demanding passages and asking for the right dose of musical colour. Claudia Norz tackled the piece masterfully and it was indeed a pleasure to hear the dynamic nuances and shades of colour that the piece asks for.

Confident and competent is how I would describe the Trio as an ensemble. Rameau’s two works on the programme, namely, Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts – Deuxième Concert and Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts – Quatrieme Concert, displayed Rameau’s exuberance and playfulness at the keyboard punctuated with darker moods of introspection and sweeps of the keyboard with close part writing and delicate flourishes with grandiose scalar patterns together with elegant harmonies respectively.

I was particularly struck by Marin Marais’s hauntingly beautiful Tombeau pour M. De Sainte Colombe (from Suite in E Minor) scored for viola da gamba and continuo. This work was played with impeccable attention to dynamic detail, mysterious and almost haunting in the tonal colour that Kate managed to tease out of the viola da gamba. I could almost mentally hear it played on the modern viola but the ‘gamba’ instrument has an especially dark and almost emotionally detached tone that the more romantic modern version does not possess. It was ravishing!

The last work on the programme was a Suite by Rebel, and a lovely and energetic one it was too, with some mesmerizing playing by the violin in the final movement. Throughout the programme, Oliver John Ruthven was a very sound and steady continuo, with solo parts interspersed in-between his literally continuous playing perfectly executed.

Undoubtedly formidable soloists in their own right, Musica Poetica London is a top-notch Baroque ensemble and we are extremely lucky to have had them for the second year running. We also look forward to further collaboration!