El Gran Teatro Del Mundo
Lakeside, Nottingham (and St George’s Concert Hall, Bristol on Nov 18)
November 17 2022
Review: William Ruff
El Gran Teatro Del Mundo: civilised musical conversation and generosity of spirit
Lakeside’s biggest classical music audience of the season so far came to hear the Spanish ensemble El Gran Teatro Del Mundo on Thursday. The six-piece ensemble – oboe, recorders, cello, theorbo, harpsichord – are specialists in music from the 17th and 18th centuries and take their name from the title of a play by the Spanish poet Pedro Calderón de la Barca. You have to delve into their background notes to find out why they chose this title, but it all boils down to the idea that they celebrate each other’s individual musical talents whilst being strongly united in their artistic vision.
They are in the middle of what looks like a fairly exhausting tour of six UK performances in one week. Their programme is called The Art of Conversation and certainly appeals to those who like to push the boundaries of their musical knowledge. Vivaldi and Telemann are familiar but Johann Friedrich Fasch may not be a name on everyone’s lips, let alone Josep Pla.
The group is clearly a band of musical explorers, the focus of this programme being the genre of the concerto da camera, a small chamber group from which instruments emerge as soloists when required, each one sharing the limelight and each one only too happy to step back when it’s someone else’s turn. Just like a conversation amongst friends, in fact. It is all very civilised.
You don’t go to music like this if you’re looking for extremes of emotion, but within its particular boundaries there is much contrast to be found, especially when played with such mastery as by the Gran Teatro. Everything they played had elegance and subtlety as they clearly took delight in the ear-pleasing sonorities evident throughout the seven pieces they performed, such as when the timbres of recorder, oboe and violin are contrasted in concertos by Fasch, Vivaldi and Telemann.
They played the whole programme without a break. This meant (if you count their encore) 24 short movements played back-to-back. It was all very entertaining, although one composer did tend to blur into another – and maybe something more musically substantial (some Bach possibly?) could have been thrown into the mix. However, we are all in need of elegance and civilised conversation in these gloomy days and El Teatro Del Mundo were certainly generous in gifting these to their Lakeside audience.
El Gran Teatro Del Mundo
Claudio Rado, violin
Michael Form, recorders
Miriam Jorde, oboe
Bruno Hurtado, cello
Jonas Nordberg, archlute
Julio Caballero, harpsichord and artistic direction