Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Light Textures but Heavy Ideas; CLASSICAL

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Light Textures but Heavy Ideas; CLASSICAL

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK KIMBERLEY

Orchestra of the 18th Century/Br?ggen Barbican

THE Dutch conductor Frans Br?ggen cuts a skeletal, not to say spectral figure on the podium; but conducting his Orchestra of the 18th Century, he proved a force to be reckoned with, generating performances that were lean but not in the least lightweight, clean but not antiseptic.

Br?ggen does not see period instruments as a means of scoring interpretative points, but he has his own way, not least in the orchestral layout: violins divided to either side of him, cellos in front, three basses to the far left. For those of us on that side of the hall, this gave the sound real heft, so that, at the beginning of the second movement of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, the basses' serpentine slither had a dark mystery, only deepened when the wisp of answering cello melody emerged from another perspective altogether.

Throughout, the lighter textures of old instruments allowed details to register with extra clarity, particularly in the winds: the bubbling clarinet, the sweet softness of wooden flutes, the horns' rustic bleat. …

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