A Very Trying Period; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Byline: RICK JONES

ALTHOUGH the Age of Enlightenment is also known as the Age of Reason, there is something intrinsically absurd about the period instrument orchestra that bears that epoch's name. They now boast that they play up to Debussy although I have never heard them do this. Do they also adopt the appropriate technological advances with each new composer they approach or do they attempt early 20th century works on their inadequate 18th century instruments?

The poor old narrow-bore horns had a torrid time in Mozart's Symphony No40 last night. A Martian might have wondered what all the applause was for and been amazed to discover what beautiful instruments there are on the market these days. They play those hosepipes deliberately?

Mars may be visible but Jupiter was on the bill. No one knows the reason for the nickname of Mozart's Symphony No41 beyond supposing that it was soon recognised as a god among symphonies. The out-and-back progress of the fugal finale feels orbital. Sir Simon Rattle, conducting, forced the pace. …

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