Bath Bachfest: Academy of Ancient Music
Academy of Ancient Music
Was this a glimpse of Heaven? Four Bach suites, played by experts, linked by a continuing lively dialogue between a knowledgeable presenter, Sara Mohr-Pietsch, and the director of the academy, Pavlo Beznosiuk, accompanied by demonstrations of Bach's use of dance rhythms, harmonic complexity, and the incredible variety of his counterpoint. Music of transcendent genius, recreated with flair and authenticity.
Suite No 4 had all the players – strings, woodwind, trumpets, harpsichord and percussion, with a quite entrancing bassoon solo, quick and quirky.
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Suite No 2 for flute, strings and harpsichord is a remarkable piece of writing for the flute. Rachel Brown showed astonishing virtuosity at a very lively pace, and the dialogue with Beznosiuk on the violin was crisply observed, giving the piece life and vitality.
Suite No 1 shows us the remarkable counterpoint and the intricate interplay between strings and woodwind is full of rhythmic variety and brio. Finally Suite No 3, which includes the wellknown Air on the G string – not played, though, as Beznosiuk told us, on the G string at all. This was a superb example of dynamic contrast, the full ensemble at its best in a series of musical conversations, finishing with an exuberant spirited Gigue. Beznosiuk's sensitive Air – not on the G string – was beautifully played, without a trace of sentimentality, immaculately supported by the other players.
This was a remarkably comprehensive exploration of the amazing variety of Bach's invention: his use of different instrumental combinations, rhythmic patterns, tonal colour and melodic innovation, played on period instruments with supreme artistry. Is Bach the greatest? Of course.
Peter Lloyd Williams