Review - Classical - East Cork Early Music Festival

Various venues

Once again, this festival’s organisers have brightened up the musical landscape by inviting some of the finest practitioners in this exciting repertory to perform, and to share their enthusiasm and expertise with local players, students, and the ever-growing audience for the music of former times.

I sampled just three of the 11 festival events and, at each of them was astounded at the quality of the playing, the sense of involvement in the music by the performers, and the palpable sense of excitement and appreciation from the audiences.

Thursday night’s programme of music by JS Bach, performed by Camerata Kilkenny (directed by Maya Homburger) with soprano Anja Lipfert Poche, and Rachel Beckett (baroque flute) will long remain in my memory. Homburger’s enthusiasm, musicality, and skill obviously inspired her six colleagues and Lipfert’s beautiful interpretation of the Arias and Cantatas by Bach was a revelation.

Cantata No 82a, ‘Ich habe genug’ was, for me, the highlight of an astonishingly moving evening’s music making, that also included a wonderfully joyous, marvellously rhythmic performance of Bach’s 2nd orchestral Suite and a most moving ‘Aria, Wie lieblich’ from Cantata No 133.

Friday night was memorable for the energy, sense of phrasing, dynamic contrasts, and brilliance of violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch, who led the Cork Baroque Orchestra in music by Telemann, Schmeltzer, Vivaldi, and Clonakilty-based Justin Grounds. His prize-winning ‘Passacaglia Apia’ proved to be an intriguingly atmospheric piece.

Giving a performance of Italian music written prior to 1680, Caoimhe de Paor (recorders) and James Taylor (harpsichord) gave a display of virtuosity and musicality that brought the marvellously appreciative audience at St John’s Church, Midleton to its feet.

I particularly loved Frescobaldi’s solo ‘Canzona III’, played on tenor recorder, and Pandolfi’s adventurous ‘La Biancuccia’.


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