Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Haydn in Oxford: audience review

Fri Mar 13 2009

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An audience members review from our concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 10 March:

I am not really qualified to pass comment on the performance of the OAE as I am a very amateur musician (I pay to be allowed to play the trumpet and as far as my wife is concerned, the best present she ever gave to me was a practice mute), however, I was at the concert so here goes……

A few gripes first:

My seat had been sold to someone else as well as me! The other person let me have the seat (thank you) and was then re-seated in a much better position (a just reward).

The QEH was a bit on the warm side.

The stage was very squeaky under the foot of one of the soloists as she stood up to play.

In spite of that, the concert was a joy. It starting with the Handel Overture from Acis and Galatea which included some beautiful oboe playing which continued throughout the concert. Any counter tenor coming after Alfred Deller has a hard act to follow (so much beauty in that voice). The duet encore sang by Grace Davidson (Soprano) and Bernhard Landauer (Counter Tenor) did send a tingle down my spine.

I love the intimate sound of the OAE which got even more intimate when a nonet appeared on the stage to play the playful Pleyel. The 2nd movement solos from the oboe, violin, viola and cello were a treat. In one of the later movements even the double base had a starring role.

After the interval, Handel’s Samson Overture included some wonderful horn playing and very energetic conducting (often with his head) from Laurence Cummings on the harpsichord.

The concert finished with Haydn’s Oxford Symphony. Laurence conducted this a little too energetically from the podium for my liking (he was airborne a number of times), however, there were trumpets – nothing like mine in looks or sound (:  and some more sumptuous playing from the flute and the oboe (three mentions for the oboe!).

The concert was well applauded by a very appreciative audience.

My only real disappointment was not being able to purchase any tickets for the Midsummer Night’s Dream performance in May, they must have sold out in about 15 minutes!

Stephen Traynor

(ed: the more eagle eyed among you may note that Mr Traynor shares a surname with a member of our office staff… If any readers of the blog would like to submit reviews in future do get in touch!)

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