VIAF 2019

The Superb Jardin Musical


This splendid Basilica provides a perfect venue for performances of baroque music. As it has been doing for a number of years, the Victoria International Arts Festival, this year dedicated to its co-founder the late Joseph Vella, is presenting a week of baroque music in the basilica. The opening concert in this mini-series was entrusted to the French ensemble Le Jardin Musical, leader Christine Antoine. It was the fifth time that this ensemble was taking part in the VIAF so let’s say they have become sort of “family”. They seem to be as happy to perform here as the audience seems to enjoy their music-making.

Speaking in metaphors, let me say that the ensemble took us on a guided tour of their garden. We found many beautiful fragrant flowers, different and very distinctively individual. They were planted there by that supremely prolific German gardener, Georg Philipp Telemann.

Now back in the real world Le Jardin Musical provided some 75 minutes of superbly crafted music rendered with due attention to detail and a smooth transition from work to work. Telemann was the first to devote attention to the potential of the viola and wrote the first concerto and sonata for this instrument. It was therefore a great pleasure to hear the 4- movement Concerto for Viola and Strings, soloist Catherine Simon. Pity Telemann wrote no more of them!

Another highly accomplished soloist was Denis Radou who is amazingly deft and very articulate performer on members of the flute family for which Telemann had a very soft spot. Radou performed in Eine Kleine Kammermusik for Alto Flute and Strings, in the Concerto for Soprano Flute, Strings and Basso Continuo and the Concerto for Alto Flute, Violin and Strings in which he had a most worthy co-soloist in ensemble leader Christine Antoine.  Telemann came across in his most fresh and energetic in the Suite for Strings ‘La Lyra’. It built up to a concluding vigorous Gigue. Repeated applause resulted in an encore of the Gigue which in turn resulted in a standing ovation.

Albert George Storace