Mid-winter warmer from The Gabrieli Consort and Players at Bachfest
Classical music lovers in and around Bath can expect a mid-winter musical treat next week.
The team responsible for the much acclaimed annual Bath Mozartfest, led by artistic director Amelia Freedman, is presenting its second Bath Bachfest. This short festival – which started modestly last year with three concerts but has grown to five concerts over three days this February – will have the music of JS Bach at its heart, but also feature the music of his contemporaries, notably Handel and Vivaldi.
Baroque specialists, The Gabrieli Consort and Players under the baton of Paul McCreesh, will give the opening concert on Thursday February 21 at 7.30pm at St Mary's Bathwick. Not Bach, but his contemporary, Handel, this is a concert performance of his first dramatic work in English, Acis and Galatea, and will feature soloists including soprano Mhairi Lawson and tenor Jeremy Ovenden. It will be performed by candlelight in this most attractive church.
The one hour lunchtime concert at the Guildhall at 1pm on Friday February 22 also reaches beyond Bach, but includes his Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor and his son CPE Bach's Württemberg Sonata No 6, in Mahan Esfahani's harpsichord recital. This young Iranian-born, American-trained and now Oxford-based artist was the first harpsichordist to be chosen as a BBC R3 New Generation Artist and despite his youth has already attracted considerable critical attention.
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The next two concerts are the ones for Bach aficianados, as both feature all-Bach programmes. The Academy of Ancient Music, which has done so much to champion early music, will perform Bach's four orchestral overtures or suites, each consisting of an imposing overture followed by a sequence of dances and other short pieces. BBC Radio 3 presenter Sara Mohr-Pietsch will be on hand as an expert guide to this concert at 7.30pm at the Assembly Rooms on Friday February 22.
Then, on Saturday morning, a full length 11am Guildhall 'coffee concert' featuring the outstanding British cellist, Colin Carr, will also focus solely on the works of JS Bach, with three of his six Suites for solo cello: Nos 2, 3 and 6.
This five-concert, three-day 'fest' will draw to a close with a glorious Venetian Extravaganza in Bath Abbey at 7.30pm on Saturday February 23. La Serenissima is one of the UK's leading period-instrument orchestras and this celebration of the great musical sons of that City, Vivaldi and Albinoni, promises to be as uplifting and joyful as it is serene.
Tickets are available from 01225 463362 or visit: www.bathbachfest.org.uk for further details.
This week we have two lots of tickets to give away for Handel's Acis and Galatea at St Mary Bathwick at 7.30pm on Thursday February 21. The winner will receive a pair of top price tickets, worth £64, and the runner-up a pair of second price band tickets at £50.
All you have to do is answer the following question, put your answer on a postcard and send it with your name and telephone number to Bachfest Competition, The Bath Chronicle, Westpoint, James Street West, Bath BA1 2ET. The first correct answers out of the hat on Monday will get the tickets. The question is what is the name of the conductor of the Gabrieli Consort and Players?