Reviews: IBO/Huggett – St Ann’s Church, Dublin
Taking an evening out from its annual festival at Ardee, the Irish Baroque Orchestra came to Dublin with a selection from its two festival concerts. Its programme, Baroque A-Z, yielded a musical lexicon encompassing composers from Albinoni to Zelenka, with Handel, Mondonville, Purcell and Vivaldi included along the way.
Significantly, the Dublin programme had no entry under the letter B, although space was allocated at Ardee for Bach’s Triple Concerto BWV 1064.
As well as being in charge of the orchestra, the IBO’s artistic director, Monica Huggett took the solo violin parts in Vivaldi’s “Il favorito” Concerto, Op 11 No 2, and Zelenka’s Sinfonia in A minor Z189. Her playing had its usual beguiling moments of merry surprise: scoopy chromatics, icy ponticellos, and spontaneous hesitations. Yet, though there was sparkle even to the most mechanised of her solo passages, Huggett was sometimes too conspicuously the music’s indefatigable driving force.
In contrast to this was some relaxed and tastefully nuanced playing from oboists Andreas Helm and Hannah McLaughlin in a duo-concerto by Albinoni. Both also added touches of vivid colour to Handel’s Concerto Grosso, Op 3 No 2, and, partly on recorders, to an orchestrated sonata by Mondonville.
The evening’s best string playing came in a fine performance of Purcell’s Three Parts on a Ground, played with continuo accompaniment by Huggett and her violinist colleagues, Claire Duff and Hannah Tibell.
It was here that vim and vigour fully gave way to an even distribution of sheer musical relish. ANDREW JOHNSTONE