October 11 2019
University Hall, Nottingham
Review: William Ruff
Supremely civilised musical conversations in an exciting new concert venue
Good concert halls should be prized as highly as fine musical instruments, especially if they sound as good as NTU’s University Hall on Shakespeare Street. First a Wesleyan chapel, then an orthodox synagogue, now a beautifully restored concert venue, its decorative details decked out in white, blue and gold.
The new concert series was launched on Friday – not with noisy fanfares but with the elegant charm of one of the world’s top early music ensembles, Florilegium, playing seventeenth and eighteenth century music on original instruments which need a sympathetic acoustic to make them bloom.
And this is exactly what they got. In fact, the programme could hardly have been better chosen to demonstrate the intimacy and true acoustic properties of the new hall. They started with one of the pinnacles of baroque music, Bach’s 5th Brandenburg Concerto. Played by the seven musicians it emerged as both a supremely civilised musical conversation between equals and as a showcase for solo display, especially when the spotlight focused on the harpsichord and its spectacular first movement cadenza, dazzlingly executed by Pawel Siwczak.
The earliest piece on the programme was Purcell’s Chacony in G minor written in 1680 with the tastes of King Charles II in mind (he liked to stand up and tap his foot when listening to music). The sound of Florilegium’s bows digging into the gut strings of their instruments added to the earthy vitality of their performance, as did the obvious rapport between the musicians.
Flautist Ashley Solomon was centre-stage in Buffardin’s elegant, highly virtuosic Flute Concerto in E minor and in Handel’s Concerto a Quattro. Here again the intimacy of refined musical communication was a joy to see as well as to hear.
A very jolly concerto by Corrette as well as Bach’s Badinerie (as encore) completed a concert in which both Florilegium and the University Hall surely shared 5-star billing.
Flute: Ashley Solomon
Violin: Bojan Čičić
Violin: Elin White
Viola: Jane Rogers
Cello: Jennifer Morsches
Double Bass: Carina Cosgrave
Harpsichord: Pawel Siwczak