Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Stodgy Bach but stunning Vivaldi from Ibragimova and AAM, Wigmore Hall 29 February 2012

Biber, Bach, Vivaldi: Academy of Ancient Music, Alina Ibragimova (violin and director), Wigmore Hall, London 29.2.1
Biber: Passacaglia in G Minor from the Rosary Sonatas
Bach: Sonata in E Major BWV1016
Bach: Concerto in A Minor BWV1041
Vivaldi: Concerto in D Major RV234
Vivaldi: Concerto in D Minor RV565
Biber: Battalia
Bach: Concerto in E Major BWV1042

Alina Ibragimova is often described as a violinist who is equally at home in both modern and period instrument worlds, but it isn't often we get to hear her in Baroque mode. When playing the violin in its modern configuration, she is one of the instrument's finest living exponents. Her tone is slight, but always incisive. Her intonation and phrasing are beyond reproach. And, most significantly, her bowing is agile and light, breathing life and energy into every note she plays.
So how do gut strings and a baroque bow affect these exceptional qualities. Well, that probably comes down to your personal preferences, but to my ear the magic of her playing survives, but is not enhanced by baroque conventions. The baroque bow is a little more cumbersome, and the gradations in her dynamics aren't quite as fine, nor is her forte sound as sweet. But in piano passages her playing is as attractive as ever, and the roundness of the gut string sound adds something of value. The way that she ends long notes is a particular pleasure, when she uses a modern bow, and she makes a real virtue out of long and gradual diminuendos, always precisely controlled and always transfixing. Again, those qualities survive the move to a baroque bow, and as such she offers something genuinely new and interesting to period performance. The question is, does period performance offer anything new or interesting to Alina Ibragimova?
The first piece on the programme, the unaccompanied Passacaglia from Biber's Rosary Sonatas, offered plenty of material for reflection on the subject. Although the movement was written as the conclusion to Biber's great cycle, it is a great way to open a concert, at least it is when played with the verve, passion and musicality that Ibragimova injects. The whole scordatura issue tends to mean that violinists treat Biber as primarily a composer to show off with. Not Ibragimova though. She knows that we know that every note of this music is safely under her fingers. So instead of a bravura show-piece, we are offered a solo movement filled with a wide-ranging colours and textures. And of course, they are the colours and textures of a baroque violin. But all those Ibragimova trademarks are there: the light breezy tone, the sculpted but carefree phrasing, the dynamic shifts that range from the sudden to the very gradual. And that last note was absolute magic; Ibragimova had the capacity audience hanging on the end of her bow as she gradually diminuendoed to a perfectly controlled ending.
The title of the concert was 'Rise of the Concerto', and the programme was apparently curated to demonstrate how the Classical violin concerto evolved out of a diverse array of baroque roots. Or was this just an excuse to programme the best bits of Biber, Vivaldi and Bach's violin music? The three composers, all of whom were violinists themselves, certainly got a good airing, although the performances did more to highlight their differences than their similarities. In the cast of Biber this is little surprise, his music doesn't sound like anybody else's. But Vivaldi and Bach were treated very differently to each other, especially by the Academy of Ancient Music, and there was never any doubt as to which we were hearing at any given time.
Bach was introduced with a sonata for violin and harpsichord, the E major BWV1016. Although not credited as such, harpsichordist Alistair Ross was the real soloist here. His playing never suggested any sense of accompanist's restraint, and his instrument was more than sufficient to fill the Wigmore Hall. The lightness of Ibragimova's tone also allowed the harpsichord to shine through, although she was not shy about adding dynamics into her own part. The limited vibrato in her violin playing, another period performance trait, became clearly apparent here. It is such a shame to hear her playing under to such extreme aesthetic proscriptions, especially when her vibrato is so subtle anyway. But in its (almost) absence, her intonation and articulation showed themselves to be absolutely spot on.
Both halves of the concert ended with Bach concertos, but neither shone in the same way as the Biber or the Vivaldi that they followed. The Academy of Ancient Music fielded a large string section of some 13 players. That's a lot to get on the Wigmore stage, especially with a soloist (admittedly slight), a harpsichord and a theorbo. In the Bach, the sheer quantity of players overwhelmed. There were no problems with the intonation or ensemble, but what should have been sprightly contrapuntal textures sounded heavy and chordal, simply for the number of players. Ibragimova and Ross attempted to compensate with fast tempos and clipped phrases, but to no avail.
More impressive were the Vivaldi concertos, RV234 and 565, which is ironic as they are clearly inferior works. But the lightness of Vivaldi's orchestration, which is all isolated runs and filigree decorations, allowed the ensemble to take flight, despite their numbers. Ibragimova's 'baroque' tone also came into its own in Vivaldi's music, and her famously fluid bowing proved the ideal medium for these Italian solo lines.
Biber made a return in the second half with a comedy number. His Battalia is a depiction of a fight, complete with sound effects and some perambulation around the hall from the violin and cello soloists. This composer is nothing if not unpredictable, and his raucous contribution to the second half was about as far removed from the civility of his earlier Passacaglia as you could imagine.
But fine as the orchestral playing was this evening from the AAM, the best of this concert had already passed by the time they first took the stage. That solo with which Ibragimova opened the concert was a stunner, elevating Biber's fine Passacaglia almost to the status of Bach's famous work in the same genre, of which she is surely one of the greatest exponents. The Academy of Ancient Music achieved an impressive coup getting Ibragimova to tour with them. The trouble is she completely upstaged the lot of them.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Osvaldo Golijov treads a fine line between collaboration and plagiarism

Critic Tom Manoff and musicologist Brian McWhorter got a surprise earlier this month when they attended a performance of Osvaldo Golijov's Sidereus given by the Eugene Symphony in Oregon. The two men had recently been editing a recording of Barbeich, a work by composer and accordionist Michael Ward-Bergeman, and the two pieces sounded suspiciously similar. Golijov had acknowledged the use of a theme from Ward-Bergeman's score, but to Manoff and McWhorter's ears he had taken more than that. Manoff later wrote that the plagiarism accounted for over 50% of the score and included 'melodies, harmonies, counterpoint, and notable musical structures.'
Osvaldo Golijov is well known for his collaborative approach to composition, and the popularity of his music stems in no small part from his close interactions with musicians working in popular styles. Ward-Bergeman has been one of his collaborators, and it turns out that both composers are happy with the amount of Barbeich that appears in Sidereus.
So where's the harm? Well, Golijov is a best-selling composer, and his work is of considerable financial benefit to his publishers, Boosey & Hawkes, his agents, Opus3 Artists, and his record label, Nonesuch. None of these organisations are likely to reap the same dividends from a score jointly credited to the lesser-known Ward-Bergeman. And music by, or at least credited to, Golijov doesn't come cheap. The commission for Siderius came from a consortium of 35 American orchestras, each contributing between $1,500 and $4,000, none of whom had any idea about the connections between this and the earlier work. A number of these orchestras are now in the unenviable position of having to defend the composer and the work, but whether they will be returning to him for further commissions remains to be seen.
Any claims to originality for Siderius are also undermined by the fact that Golijov has used the same music before but under a different title. Ward-Bergeman's Barbeich was originally composed as part of a film music project, in which Golijov was also involved. There is no suggestion that Golijov played any part in the creation of Barbeich, but he did make an orchestration of it called Patagonia, which was performed in concert by members of the Chicago Symphony in March 2010.
Since the story began making headlines in the States last week, another instance of questionable attribution on Golijov's part has come to light. After posting his comments, Manoff was contacted by Lúcia Guimarães, a Brazilian journalist based in New York, to tell of a similar experience. She had attended a performance of Kohelet, written by Golijov for the St. Lawrence String Quartet. But one of the movements sounded very familiar, as a popular song by a Brazilian composer. Guimarães knows the Brazilian composer personally, and has been discrete in not naming the allegedly copied work. But she contacted Golijov himself, who apologised and withdrew the movement.
Some commentators, including Alex Ross, have suggested comparisons with Baroque composers as a defence for Golijov's actions. After all, both Bach and Handel routinely passed off other composers' works as their own. But, as Ross himself points out, Golijov's increasing reliance on the work of others parallels a significant decline in both the quality and quantity of his output. Sidereus, for example, is significantly shorter than its commission stipulated. He has also been having trouble meeting deadlines, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic had to cancel the high-profile première of his Violin Concerto last May as the score was not ready.
All of which stands in stark contrast to Golijov's works of a decade ago, when music like La Pasión según San Marcos and Ainadamar established him as a major new voice in classical music. As a result of those imaginative and popular scores, the credit 'by Osvaldo Golijov' still carries a significant financial premium. If it is to continue to do so, the composer himself needs to define precisely what those words mean.

More articles on this story:

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Newspapers Inciting Performance Disruptions

The Death of Klinghoffer is a controversial opera. Protests of one sort or another accompany every production. But just to make sure that any potential protesters are aware of the upcoming staging at English National Opera, the Telegraph's Roya Nikkhah has contacted a range of interested parties to let them know.
The resulting article opens with the line 'the English National Opera (ENO) is to risk public protests with a new production of The Death of Klinghoffer.' Such protests are all the more likely as a result of the article that follows. It's not inflammatory as such, but it does detail all the reasons why anybody who did want to protest at the Coliseum might do so.
The Telegraph clearly isn't going to be too distressed if, or rather when, such protests do happen. However, if the protests go as far as disrupting the performances, then audience members, whatever their personal politics, are unlikely to be so impressed. The classical music community tends towards the view that protests outside or inside a venue are acceptable, so long as the performance itself is not disrupted. And while this could be read as a narrow-minded defence of their cherished medium, a more important issue is the fact that if audiences are denied the chance of hearing the music in question, the debate surrounding it becomes limited to the competing ideologies, and the music itself is denied its voice in the debate.
None of which is apparently of any concern to the Telegraph, for whom protests and disruptions will always make for news stories (at least while they are still rare enough to be news). But it's not just the Telegraph, the Guardian attempted a similar stunt, on behalf of the other side of the Israel/Palestine debate, last September. Charlotte Higgins wrote a piece about the suspension of four players by the LPO over their signing a letter opposing the invitation of the Israel Philharmonic to the Proms. The timing for the LPO was dreadful, as the furore erupted in the week leading up to the opening concert of their winter season. Higgins was clearly expecting disruption at the event, and, like Nikkhah, went some way towards fomenting it with the line 'The LPO plays its season opener at London's Southbank Centre tonight: if it is disrupted by protests, the orchestra will have only itself to blame.' Notice how clearly the venue for the event is stated, presumably for the benefit of any potential protesters who don't usually go to LPO concerts.
I was at the concert myself, and was surprised to see Charlotte Higgins there. It was the first (and so far last) time I'd ever seen her at a concert, and I could only deduce she was there to see what sort of disruption her article had caused.
Fortunately the event went without a hitch. But had there been disruption, the Guardian would have been at least partly to blame. Given that protests are almost inevitable at the ENO Klinghoffer, questions should be raised about the Telegraph's role in any performance disruptions that do occur. Perhaps Lord Leveson would favour us with his views on the subject?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

New York Philharmonic Alan Gilbert Barbican 16 February 2012

Mahler: Symphony No.9 New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Alan Gilbert (conductor), Barbican, London, 16.2.12

The New York Philharmonic began their short London residency with their signature symphony. The orchestra has probably played Mahler 9 more often than any other ensemble, but they are able to keep it fresh, and Alan Gilbert, stepping into the shoes of some of the most famous Mahlerians of all time (including Mahler himself), delivers a lively, uncluttered and always satisfying interpretation.
Gilbert works in complete symbiosis with the orchestra. He is clearly one of their own, and there is never any feeling of alien ideas being imposed from the podium. The orchestra excels because it is able to marry clarity with subtlety, and Gilbert's reading emphasises both qualities. He cuts a curious figure at the podium; large, ungainly and usually conducting with small nervous gestures. He gives off plenty of energy though, in fact he is quite tiring to watch. And his communication with the orchestra is exemplary. The agogic structure of the inside movements was one of the most impressive aspects of this reading, and the way that each attack was demonstrated from the podium left no doubt as to the level of punch he was looking for.
There was so much to relish in the orchestral playing that it is difficult to know where to start. The unity of the string sound is extraordinary, and something that no London orchestra can match. The seconds sat on the right, which helped to clarify the contrapuntal textures in the first movement. But it also meant that the cellos were slightly swallowed up, an artefact perhaps of the Barbican acoustic. The rock-solid bass section supported them though, although this did lead to some exceptionally bottom-heavy textures. The brass deserve a special mention. The trombone section of this orchestra is rightly famous and they were on top form this evening. Loud and brash is their standard approach, but they are also capable of a wide range of colours. The slow, shallow vibrato from the first trumpet came as a surprise, but not an unwelcome one. The horns had a good evening too. The timbral distinction between the horn and trumpet sections is something we don't hear enough from London orchestras, but it is absolutely essential in this music. And like the trombones, the sheer range of tone colours and moods from the horn section made their every contribution musically interesting.
Neither Alan Gilbert nor, I suspect, the orchestra, are very interested in creating intrigue or mystery in this music. That's fair enough, and what they offer instead more than compensates. But it does mean that many passages, especially at the very beginning and the very end, are considerably different from what a European orchestra might offer. Those isolated notes from various soloists around the orchestra at the start were played with absolute clarity and control, each as definite and assertive as the last.
The whole symphony played out in these clearly-defined terms, with a sense of rationality and order underpinning every texture, however complex. That's not to say that there was no subtly or tenderness, nor that the playing or conducting were ever rigid. In fact, Gilbert's fluid tempos were a crucial factor in the life and energy of the performance. One or two transitions were a little awkward. Gilbert has a habit of closely shaping individual melodic lines, but when an new overlapping figure draws his attention away, the player is left on their own to finish the phrase, and sometimes the results can be ragged.
The inside movements were a real tour de force. The landler of the second movement was anything but rustic, but it was certainly lively, and Gilbert very quickly whipped it up into a storm. The third movement worked because of those surprisingly heavy accents. Gilbert opted for a moderate tempo, the better perhaps to show off the detail of the orchestral textures in the climaxes, and the rhythms and accents gave the music all the energy and momentum it could need.
The brass and timpani were the heroes of this third movement, but in the fourth attention passed to equally impressive contributions from the strings and woodwind. Throughout much of this concluding movement (it's not really a finale is it?), the strings provide a substantial and continuous bed of sound onto which other ideas are projected. Gilbert was happy for this to sound quite undifferentiated, which risked monotony but was redeemed by the sheer quality of the string sound. There were some excellent solos from the woodwind here, and the throaty sound of the cor anglais was a particular treat.
A story was going round the internet a few weeks ago about a mobile phone going off in a NYPO performance of Mahler 9 in New York. Apparently they had reached the last page of the score, and Gilbert, insensed that the ending had been ruined, stopped, gave the hapless audience member a dressing down and resumed from the previous climax. Well, listening to the way he handles this conclusion, it is understandable why he was angry it had been disrupted. Like the opening, the quiet textures here were absolutely clear and defined, with no trace of mystery or ambiguity of any sort. But Mahler puts all the subtleties that are needed for this conclusion in the score, so by just following the instructions, and by making sure every note, however quiet, is presented unambiguously, Gilbert was able to produce exactly the right effect.
There was nothing daring about this interpretation, and it is unlikely to raise controversy. But everything in it worked, and it was clear from every note that the orchestra, the conductor, and the symphony itself are close acquaintances, old friends who know exactly how to bring out the best in each other.

(photo: Chris Lee)

John Cage Photographer

(Photo: Rex Rystedt)

I was interested to hear this week that John Cage had a keen interest in photography. Rex Rystedt got in touch with me about a copyright infringement on my part. I had used, without permission, his photograph (above) to illustrate a review of an all-Cage concert. Rystedt was very nice about it, no legal threats or anything like that, just a request for a credit. He then went on to tell me about the session.
The photograph was shot in Seattle for Cornish TBA Magazine in the mid-1980s. Rystedt had not heard of Cage, but says he was a joy to work with. Cage said that he was a photographer too, and that he and shot what he called "chance photography", which he described as "a monkey throwing a camera up in the air".
A cursory look round the internet yields very little, in fact nothing at all, about Cage's photography. His photographs may be included in the Cage Archive at Bard College, but again I've found no mention. If anybody out there has any information about Cage's photography, or even better some images, I'd be very interested to see them, and so would my very forgiving photographer contact.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

BBCSO, Widmann, Bringuier play Dvorak, Saunders, Tchaikovsky

Dvorak, Saunders, Tchaikovsky: Carolin Widmann (violin), BBC Symphony Orchestra, Lionel Bringuier (conductor), Barbican, London, 10.2.12
Dvorak: Carnival Overture
Rebecca Saunders: Still (UK premiere)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.5 in E minor
The odds were stacked against Rebecca Saunders' Violin Concerto. She is a radical avantgardist, and traditional genres like the concerto are not her thing. Her music rarely has a sense of linear progression, let alone melody, she doesn't write virtuoso solo parts, and she has little experience of writing for symphony orchestra. The BBC and the Beethovenfest Bonn therefore took a brave step in commissioning the work.
Unsurprisingly, the word 'concerto' does not appear in the name of the finished piece, which instead goes by 'Still' a convoluted reference of Samuel Beckett. And despite the inauspicious nature of the commission, Saunders has played to her strengths, particularly her preoccupation with tone colour. The work was written for violinist Carolin Widmann, who has a complex and strident tone, not pretty as such, but focussed, incisive and always interesting. These qualities in Widmann's playing were clearly the seeds for the inspiration that led to this concerto. Saunders' solo part is ideal for Widmann. It has lots of abrasive, punchy sonorities, but also exploits the wide range of colours that Widmann is able to produce.
The orchestra's role is essentially reactive, in that all the musical ideas begin on the violin before being expanded by the ensemble. Klangfarbenmelodie is the basis of this approach, with individual pitches transferred from violin to orchestra, and then around the individual sections. But that's only the start, and Saunders extends the idea into timbral motifs which are developed and expanded as they move around the players. Her brass writing owes much to Varèse, although unlike him, she often begins dense chords quietly, especially when they have just come from the violin, before crescendoing to brutal climaxes. The percussion section has a very important part to play, and is similar in size and prominence to the woodwinds or the brass. Antiphonal truck suspension springs was one of the many sounds I heard for the first time from them this evening. And one other inspired piece of orchestration to mention – the button accordion. This appears in many of Saunders' works, but its role in these orchestral textures is particularly striking. When the accordion holds a high pianissimo cluster after the end of an orchestral tutti, it is as if live electronic sound manipulation is being used. A surprisingly innovative effect from a thoroughly traditional instrument.
The Concerto was framed by two 19th century audience pleasers, which was a curious and unhelpful context for it, but nevermind. Lionel Bringuier is one of the many young conductors on the international circuit, and at 25 he's younger than most. Like many conductors in his age bracket, Bringuier's strength is the excitement and energy he brings to familiar works. Dvorak's Carnival Overture benefited more than Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony from this youthful exuberance. It was an excellent concert opener, and the energy in the outer sections was close to ideal. The string sound was a little brittle, and the transitions to and from the quiet central section were awkward, but otherwise this was an excellent performance.
The Tchaikovsky though need more subtly, and it didn't get it. Bringuier seemed to by trying to channel the spirit of Evgeny Mravinsky, to recreate those searing textures and continual surprises that made the great man's performances of the 5th so special. But Bringuier is not Mravinsky and the BBC SO, fine as they are, are not the Leningrad Philharmonic. The louder music (all of which was very loud) fared better than the quieter sections. The reflective clarinet solo at the opening, for example, was just drab, as was most of the second movement.
The orchestra, to its credit, maintained both its tone quality and its balance in the superloud tuttis that Bringuier drew from them. It is great to hear the trombones playing as loud as they are capable of for a change, and the rest of the orchestra playing up to their dynamic rather than the other way round.
Bringuier's approach finally bore fruit in the last movement. Here he did approach the splendour and vigour of Mravinsky's high-octane performances. Tempos throughout the symphony had been on the fast side, and often excessively rigid too, but at the end of the last movement, that finally seemed like a virtue. The passage that leads up to the false ending about five minutes before the end really worked. Bringuier's interpretation up to here had seemed brash and unfeeling, but in these last few minutes, where the composer is battling the dark forces of fate, nothing else would have fitted the bill.

This concert was broadcast live of BBC Radio 3 and is available until Thursday 16 February at:

Friday, 3 February 2012

Andreas Scholl sings Bach, Barbican 3 February 2012

Bach: Kammerorchesterbasel, Andreas Scholl (countertenor), Barbican, London, 3.2.12 (GDn)
Sinfonia from Cantata 'Ich steh met einem Fuss im Grab' BWV156
Cantata 'Ich habe genug' BWV83
Keyboard Concerto no.5 in F minor BWV1056
Cantata 'Gott soll allein mein Herze haben' BWV169

Most countertenors have their detractors. Singing falsetto really brings out the idiosyncrasies in a voice, and singers are routinely accused of sounding too girly, too aggressive, too nasal, or just too damn weird. Andreas Scholl is the exception. The purity of his voice and the sophistication of his interpretations seem to result in admiration from all quarters. He's not one to rest on his laurels though, and the programme he is currently touring with the Kammerorchesterbasel (in period instrument mode) is as a tough sing. It includes two Bach cantatas, a well known favourite, Ich habe genug, which pits him against fine recorded versions from almost every voice type, and the lesser-known Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, a long and emotionally involved work that would test the stamina of any singer.
The two halves of the programme each highlighted an instrumental soloist, initially in a solo work and then as obbligatist in a cantata. In the first half, the oboist Kerstin Kamp performed the Sinfonia from cantata BWV156 before accompanying Scholl in the glorious outer movements of Ich habe genug. Her performance was proficient but rarely excelled. The three-keyed Baroque oboe is a tricky instrument to tame. Intonation is a problem on many notes, sounding the upper register takes real effort, and it is very difficult to keep the tone even. Kamp clearly struggled, and nothing ever looked or sounded easy. The phrasing was elegant though, and the results were certainly musical, but tuning was a perpetual problem, and there was very little grace in her passage work.
Her duets with Scholl in Ich habe genug worked OK, but by this point the singer was clearly the centre of attention. The cantata, which I'm assuming he sang in Bach's alto arrangement, isn't ideal for his range and often goes lower than he is comfortable with (at least when in countertenor mode, a understand he has a fine baritone when required). The oboe, by contrast, struggled at the top, every time the music went into the upper register, so it was really only the mid-range music that showed the soloists at their best.
Up until the last cantata, the orchestra took the role of a backing band. The balance was generally good, but only because the strings were able to take the dynamics right down to virtually nothing when accompanying. As a result, when tutti codas ended movements, the orchestra seemed to appear out of nowhere to take the centre stage.
The instrumental soloist for the second half was Giorgio Paronuzzi, chamber organist in the continuo group (which also included lute, two cellos, double bass and bassoon) for three numbers and harpsichord soloist for the F minor concerto. Of all Bach's concertante harpsichord works, this concerto must be the one that is most often played on the piano, so it was refreshing to hear it on its original instrument for a change. Again, the balance was impressive, and although the strings often played almost impossibly quietly, they always seemed at the ideal level to support the solo instrument.
Paronuzzi sat more comfortably behind the organ than he did the harpsichord, and he played the concerto more as a continuo accompanist than a soloist. Runs and florid passages seemed to take him by surprise, as if he was processingfigured bass as he went on. On the plus side, this gave his performance an impressive sense of spontaneity, especially the ornaments. The reading was brisk, surprisingly so in the Largo. The pizzicato in the strings and staccato bass line from the soloist highlighted some ensemble problems in the orchestra, but nothing too serious.
The last piece on the programme was by far the best. Parnouzzi left the stage as a soloist at the end of the concerto and then immediately returned as part of the continuo group to play the chamber organ. In fact, as soon as he sat down the spotlight returned to him, as the first movement of Gott soll allein mein Herze haben is a Sinfonia with a prominent organ solo. He made a much more impressive job of this movement, much freer and more lyrical. Similarly, the rest of the orchestra suddenly found their stride in this cantata. In all the preceding works, the strings had given reserved and dispassionate readings of their accompanying textures. But now everybody on the stage suddenly seemed to find their enthusiasm. Andreas Scholl can always be relied upon to give emotional and involving interpretations, but for this last cantata, everybody on the stage seemed equally committed.
Almost all of the cantata's seven movements involve the soloist, and it is a long cantata too, making this a real test of stamina. But Scholl was unfazed. His control he exercises over his tone is extraordinary, and despite the evident technical challenges, the overriding impression was always of sheer beauty and elegance. The tessatura of this cantata regularly allowed him to show off that crystal clear top register of his, and the the poetry of the libretto sounded all the more elegant for his precise articulation.
The cantata ends with a chorale, which was a bit tricky given that the orchestra hadn't brought a choir with them from Switzerland. The solution? The players sang it instead. The results were 'congregational' at best, and this would have been a poor way to end the show, had it not been for a spirited encore, Schlage doch BWV53, complete with glockenspiel, and a last few minutes to enjoy Andreas Scholl singing at his very best.