5 May 2014

Bush baroquing

It's strangely apt to go off to the bush to hear baroque. It's quiet and that seems right, although baroque towns would probably not have been quiet. Richard and Joan Milner have a suite of period instruments in their music room and are generous sponsors of concerts for charity. This one was Peter Hagen on harpsichord and a lovely little baroque organ with Jane Downer on baroque oboe and oboe d'amore. JS Bach was there, but also son CPE and students, Krebs and Homilius, and Homelius' student, Tag. It's interesting to hear the various composers and get some sense of change through their styles. Peter started with a Telemann Prelude, not on the program, in memory of the organ builder who had died recently. Telemann lived contemporaneously with Bach but this piece felt earlier, with single note lines in counterpoint on a lovely chamber organ. The tone was small and delicate, soft at the lower end and flut-ish above. Then Bach's Fantasia Jesu, meine freude, with long oboe notes over more chordal keyboard. Then two pieces by his student, Krebs, in the JS Bach tradition, but clearly lacking his brilliance to my ears. I liked Krebs' second piece, a chorale on Jesu, meine freude, which was again single note counterpoint. Homilius was another student of Bach's. His Sonata à oboe solo col basso in F major was longer and more complex, comprising four movements. Then CPE Bach's Fantasia for keyboard. Interestingly, it's in C# minor (an unfavourite key in this household). To me this was showy; played with heavy chords, whispy runs and pensive passages in response, overt emotions. Then JS Bach Trio in D minor BWV527 in 3 movements. Apparently CPE had said that music like this would forever be popular, but Beyoncé is more popular now; music always passes. Then two Krebs to finish with. Baroque is always a pleasure and we are hearing it increasingly on original instruments, paler but more intimate than their concert cousins. It's a lovely way to pass an afternoon in the bush, with young Aussie bush in the background and old European sounds in the foreground.

Austral Harmony are Jane Downer (baroque oboe, oboe d'amore) and Peter Hagen (harpsichord, baroque organ).

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