Concerti Bizzarri – The Irish Baroque Orchestra in University Church, St. Stephen’s Green, Monday 27th January.

For this, the first of a three-concert series, the Irish Baroque Orchestra have taken up temporary residence in St. Stephen’s Green’s Newman University Church. If there’s a better venue in this city for this music, then we don’t know it – the high-ceilinged, marble-walled space is a perfect fit. Rich and resonant, the ensembles’ period instruments rarely sound better than this.

The first of the evening’s three selection is Dittersdorf’s Concerto for Oboe d’Amore in A Major. That instrument’s warm and mellow sound is put to good use by soloist Andreas Helm – as the sound of the orchestra rises to fill the room, the sweet tone of the oboe is clear. Though the space is big, the reverb wide, the sound is never muddied. The church’s natural reverb plays a particular part in the second movement Adagio – when Helm takes a solo, as the orchestra drop back, the sounds of the oboe seem to swell and fade to fill the room. The final Presto movement is quick and lively – there’s a real sense of energy, of the musicians having a good time.

Another little heard instrument is featured in the second work of the night, the first of two from Georg Philipp Telemann. The Concerto for Flute, Viola d’Amore and Oboe d’Amore in E major features Huw Daniel on the viola d’amore. Its rich sound adds some depth to the piece, and the exchanges between the three soloists are a pleasure, even if the distinctive sound of the viola is occasionally overpowered. The fourth and final Vivace movement features some fine playing again from Helm, as lively as the name suggests.

The final selection of the evening is another from Telemann, the Overture Suite in A Minor. As it’s done all night, the harpsichord of Malcolm Proud holds the whole thing together, its’ stately sounds bringing an added richness to the already full sweep of the orchestra. Director and violinist Monica Huggett draws a balanced, dynamic sound from the ensemble, as they move through each movement – the final Minuet sees Helm attack one last solo, lively and quick, rounding out the night’s music on a dramatic note.



Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf – Concerto for Oboe d’Amore, in A Major

Georg Philipp Telemann – Concerto for Flute, Viola d’Amore and Oboe d’Amore, in E Major

Georg Philipp Telemann – Overture Suite, in A Minor