Thrilling and Enchanting
James McQuillen of The Oregonian shares his review of PBO’s Bach Concertos performance. Here are a few of our favorite quotes, but click below for the full article!
Beyond its insights into Bach’s approach to the concerto, the evening was a pleasure, a display of energy, brilliance and varied texture laced with lyrical slow movements.
The evening’s headliners were violinist Monica Huggett and oboist Gonzalo Ruiz, longtime PBO stars and colleagues on the faculty at the Juilliard School (Huggett, one of the world’s leading Baroque violinists, is also PBO’s artistic director). They both thrilled and enchanted, Huggett cleanly negotiating virtuoso passages that were a match for anything in Vivaldi’s famous “Four Seasons” and Ruiz tracing delicate arabesques over slow, stately rhythms in the A Major Concerto for Oboe d’amore (a larger, lower-voiced version of the instrument).
Read the full review here.
Behind the Scenes: Bach Concertos for Violin & Oboe
Check out some behind the scenes video of our October performances followed by a few stellar reviews!
Portland Baroque Orchestra to play and record blockbuster Bach program - Oregon Live
Weekend MusicWatch: Bach to Bach brilliance - Oregon ArtsWatch
Portland Baroque Orchestra opens two weekends of Bach concertos: classical music review - Oregon Live
Watch and listen to Bach Violin Concerto in E Major
This lively piece needs little introduction. Once the music starts it feels like an old friend—and definitely the kind of friend you want to spend a night on the town with! This clip, performed by the excellent modern violinist Gidon Kremer, includes a score for following along. Hold on for great ride at the start and the finish—and a hauntingly beautiful slow movement in the middle.
Rob is very often performing as Monica’s main sparring partner as principal second violinist—one of the most positions in the orchestra. Rob has also performed as concertmaster for some of PBO’s most challenging projects, including last seasons performances of Handel’s RINALDO with Portland Opera.
Come hear PBO’s multi-talented Rob Diggins show his mettle performing this iconic concerto on October 4, 5 and 6.
Violinist Carla Moore and the A minor Violin Concerto
Carla Moore has been regular concert master and Monica Huggett’s right hand (or left, if you want to be strictly accurate) for over a decade. We’ve heard her perform many a solo in the past, but nothing quite as meaty as the Bach’s Concerto in A Minor BWV 1041.
Enjoy a performance of it below by Rachel Podger, a contemporary of Carla with whom she recently collaborated at Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, where Carla is also a concertmaster.
And to hear Carla performing Bach, here’s another clip of the sublime slow movement of the double concerto, performed by her with San Francisco’s Voice of Music. Quite a difference from last week’s clip featuring Jascha Heifitz!
The Ebulliant A Major Concerto and the Oboe d’amore
Bach Concerto in A Major, BWV 1055 has been loved by keyboardists long before the modern period-performance movement began. But already in the early 20th century, the philosopher and musicologist Albert Schweitzer suggested that this concerto was written for the alto member of the baroque oboe family: the oboe d’amore, which plays a minor-third lower, in A, than the soprano oboe.
Because the right hand part of the harpsichord concerto already sits in the exact range of the oboe d’amore, the performance of BWV 1055 as an oboe d’amore concerto is a no-brainer—as long as you have an oboist like Gonzalo Ruiz in the star position. Don’t miss him perform this beautiful concerto at October 4, 5, and 6 with Monica Huggett and Portland Baroque Orchestra.
Gonzalo’s premiere recording of this concerto will take place right after the his performances of them with PBO. In the meanwhile you can enjoy this recording.
Bach’s Double Concerto - performed by Jascha Heifitz - on gut strings!
One of the key differences between modern violin and baroque violin is the use of pure (sheep) gut strings on period instruments.
But of the 20th century’s Jascha Heifitz, once called by the New York Times “the greatest violinist of all time,” was adamant that that performing on gut strings was critical to rendering a unique, individual sound.
Heifitz performed with D and A strings of pure, unvarnished gut and a silver-wound gut G string. This is not so far off from the strings PBO’s musicians use on their baroque instruments.
Heifitz’s rapid vibrato and liberaly use of portamento (slurring between notes) is quite different from PBO’s historically informed style.
But there is little fault to be found with this heartfelt performance of one of Bach’s most beautiful slow movements. Heifitz performs both violin parts, thanks to the wonders of 20th-century recording technology, on his gut-strung violin, which happened to be made by a famous Italian in the early 18th-century.
Monica and an “Unknown” Concerto
Monica Huggett, PBO’s artistic director is among the world’s foremost performers and experts on the music of J.S. Bach. And she cannot get enough of it. Monica is always looking at the latest scholarship and for reconstructions and even transcriptions of “new” works by Bach for performance by Portland Baroque Orchestra.
In 2012 PBO triumphantly performed Bach’s Goldberg Variations in Dmitri Sitkovetsky’s arrangement for string orchestra, you can listen to the radio broadcast of this performance below.
On October 4, 5 and 6, Monica will bring Portland audiences a reconstruction of Bach’s Concerto for Three Harpsichords in D-minor, BWV 1063 featuring three violin soloists instead of harpsichords. Monica will be joined by PBO’s Carla Moore and Jolianne von Einem for these rare performances.
No recording of this concerto for three violins exists, but listen to the “traditional” version performed by Ton Koopman and Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (of which Monica was a founding member with PBO’s first artistic leader, Ton Koopman).
Follow PBO and get ready for 10 Bach Concertos
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From September 30 through October 12 Portland Baroque Orchestra embarks on one of its biggest projects ever: Performances and recording of ten masterful concertos by J.S. Bach featuring Monica Huggett, star oboist Gonzalo X. Ruiz, and the great violin soloists of PBO. Don’t miss the live performances, October 4, 5 & 6 (Program I) and October 12 & 13 (Program II)
Follow PBO on Facebook and Twitter over the next four weeks to listen and learn more about the concertos and the performers.
Watch and listen to Gonzalo Ruiz talk about Bach’s oboe concertos as he prepared for his first complete recording of them, this October with Portland Baroque Orchestra.