Reviews: The Vocal Concerto

Vocal Concerto

The critics are ecstatic over PBO’s local and touring performances of The Vocal Concerto:

“Van der Kamp was superbly expressive and agile all over a wide range…”
Read more from OregonLive

“Seattle has its stars, but Huggett’s an Oregon music treasure.”
Read more from Oregon ArtsWatch

“The voice is thrilling — bloodcurdling almost — in its solidity and power, and it is used with a richness of musical understanding and an emotional intensity as rare as they are compelling.”
Read more from the Seattle Times

“The Portland Baroque and their distinguished guests gave us something that was both cherishable and multi-splendoured, teaching us new things about how Baroque music can sound and reach our soul.”
Read more from Vancouver Classical Music

“The program was sprinkled with similarly excellent contributions from the members of the Portland Baroque Orchestra…It was the orchestra’s artistic director, Monica Huggett, however, who commanded the spotlight.”
Read more from Straight

Huggett Stepping in for Egarr

February 2, 2014
For Immediate Release


PORTLAND, OR —Monica Huggett, artistic director of Portland Baroque Orchestra, will replace Richard Egarr as director for upcoming performance of Mozart, Haydn and C.P.E. Bach featuring cello soloist Tanya Tomkins and horn soloist Andrew Clark.  Mr. Egarr has been forced to cancel this much-awaited return engagement for urgent personal reasons.  Mr. Egarr said of the last minute cancellation, “I am terribly disappointed to have to miss this opportunity to work with my friends at Portland Baroque, and I cannot thank Monica enough for changing her plans to step in.  I look forward to coming back to Portland in the very near future.”

Read More »

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.

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.