Devon Baroque at Dartington Great Hall (review)

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Devon Baroque at Dartington Great Hall

Devon Baroque’s decision to sandwich two contrasting cantatas between two Orchestral Suites in this all-Bach programme at Dartington Great Hall proved an astute piece of programming, even if it necessitated a little extra scene-shifting.

Opening with the Suite No 1, here was a taut, well-balanced performance, where the unique qualities of each dance movement were finely pointed, and all taken at a brisk, though perfectly-managed tempo.

Soprano Amy Carson proved an accomplished soloist in Praise ye God in every nation, where the robust trumpet obbligato from David Staff succeeded in reinforcing the work’s essential joyful sentiment.

Julian Rippon’s fine baritone voice conveyed the poignant emotion of Ich habe genug with slightly greater empathy, admirably assisted by Gail Hennesy’s perfectly-poised oboe-playing.

Bach’s Suite No 3 in D emerged as arguably the concert’s highlight, and brought out one of the most exuberant performances from the ensemble to date, especially with the added woodwind, brass and timpani, all to the delight of the capacity audience.

Devon Baroque would seem to have found the ideal leader in violinist Persephone Gibbs, whose total understanding with director and harpsichordist Jonathan Watts is evident throughout.

Never dominating the proceedings, Persephone provided the essential link between director and performers, and clearly helped to engender such an obviously enjoyable playing environment.


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