19 February 2019


Adhoc Baroque presented its first concert of the year and it was one work: Il giardino d'amore by Scarlatti. It's a work for a small ensemble with two singers, soprano and alto. Greta, soprano, played the part of Adonis to Maartje's alto Venus as they sing of their love and call on nature to witness it. It's a strange experience hearing a soprano as male, but presumably a counter-tenor would have sung it in its early days. Now it's two women, but these are times of gender fluidity so we are prepared. The orchestra was four violins with cello, bass, organ, recorder and trumpet. As I'd expect from Greta, Maartje and Peter, it was a notable team of accompanists led by BJ Gilby. The music is dignified and uplifting and seemed not overly demanding, at least on the instrumentalists, although the voices seemed to have a challenge with intricate, embellished lines. For once, I followed the words (sung in Italian of the time and translated in the program). It was florid and even amusing to a modern reader. who knows not the ways of aristocratic chambers of the time. Thus the disconsolateness of the surroundings, Venus' amorous beauty and Adonis as pitiless and grasping, the loss of interest in the pretty nightingale and cruel depths where she hides. This is tragic while flowery how it does about it but the lovers eventually come together: "come, fly, sweet content, and bring back peace to our hearts". So it worked out for the pair in the end and we left just a little befuddled by the story but nicely satisfied by the performance. Always a pleasure to hear our not at all Adhoc Barockers.

Adhoc Baroque performed Il Giardino d'amore by Domenico Scarlatti at St Pauls Manuka. Adhoc Baroque is Great Claringbould (soprano), Maartje Sevenster (alto) and Peter Young (harpsichord, director) with guests Barbara Jane Gilby, Jack Chenowyth, Pop Thompson and Matthew Witney (violins), Sam Payne (cello), Kyle Daniel (bass), Robyn Mellor (recorder) and Justin Lingard (trumpet).

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