* Notes *
Harpsichordist Richard Egarr (pictured left, photograph by Marco Borggreve) is currently conducting Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in a program entitled "Masters of the English Baroque." The performance last night in San Francisco started with Händel's Symphony from Saul. The concertmaster and the first oboe played well together in the Larghetto. The oboe solo in the Allegro seemed quite difficult. Egarr addressed the audience a good deal after the opening work, happily claiming Händel as English and introducing the second piece, Locke's Music from The Tempest. We were told the music had a "touch of the Monty Pythons" and was like "Stravinsky gone wrong." The music was rather descriptive, being rather stormy at beginning and end, more lilting in the middle. The dynamics employed were dramatic. Before intermission came Purcell's Suite from The Fairy Queen, which Egarr described as his "favorite bits from the show." The playing was utterly delightful, the dances especially vivid without being overly springy. The oboe duet was charming and remincent of birdsong.
The second half of the program started with Arne's Concerto for Harpsichord No. 5 in G minor. Egarr's playing was deft and it is always interesting to watch a soloist both play and conduct. As the harpsichord was placed perpendicular to the stage for Lawes' Consort Sett in Six Parts No. VII in C major, Egarr admitted the piece was for 6 gambas rather than violins, violas, and celli. The playing was together and clear. We ended with Händel's Concerto Grosso Op. 3, No. 5 in D minor, HWV 316 followed by "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" from Solomon.
* Tattling *
PBO's new executive director, Michael Costa, appeared on stage before the performance to inform us someone's wallet had been found and requested that all electronic devices be silenced. The audience was more or less quiet, only a few murmurs were heard.