This latest terrific concert by the Bach Akademie was filmed at the NSW Conservatorium of Music and streamed by the Australian Digital Concert Hall.

Directed by Madeleine Easton it was an inspired performance with sumptuous playing that focused on the structure of the music.

The concert is called WEAPONS OF RHETORIC as it draws on the book The Weapons of Rhetoric by Judy Tarling, who examines the links between music and rhetoric , particularly in the Renaissance and Baroque eras. The works chosen for the concert highlight J.S. Bach’s brilliance at persuasive musical conversation.

Before the various pieces, Jonathan Biggins OAM and Jonathan Horton QC read various snippets, defining and detailing how rhetoric can be used in both music and speech , while Bach Akademie presented examples of musical rhetoric .

The opening work, Bach’s Sonata No. 2 for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord BWV 1028 was in four parts – the rich, liquid , multi layered Adagio ,the Allegro which was very fast , vibrant and tumbling with a repeated circular melody and full of powerful passionate playing . The Andante was more moderate in tempo, ebbed and flowed , with the harpsichord delicately rippling or fleetingly whirling .The final Allegro section was an animated discussion, bright , jumpy and leaping.

Then we heard Bach’s Ricercar a 6 from The Musical Offering BWV 1079 introduced by Horton which oozed, flowed and bubbled .At times Anthea Cottee on cello rumbled underneath the rest of the ensemble but all contributed to the group discussion.

Next came Bach’s splendid Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 BWV 1051 – a great contrast in atmosphere, featuring the lower strings .The Alle Breve was vibrant and explosive, throbbingly vibrant in its circular repetitive structure, while the Adagio ma non tanto was pensive, slower and profound. The Allegro was bright and snappy with an emphatic repeated beat and melody.

That took us through to interval.

The second half opened with Madeleine Easton on violin – the Adagio and Fugue from Sonata No.1 in G minor BWV 1001 for unaccompanied violin in an exquisite angelic, floating soaring performance that became more animated but then alternated between the two moods. Brava!


Then came the Puzzle Canons from Musical Offering BWV 1079 – which varied with animated , earnest discussions , rippling , eddying and flowing sections , flourishes and rich , soulful and thoughtful sections . Easton elucidated how the music was turned inside out, played upside-down or back to front, a challenge for both audiences and performers.

The final work was Bach’s Concerto for 2 violins in D minor BWV 1043   with its brisk , jaunty , dynamic opening ( Vivace )  .The multi layered  Allegro ma non tanto pulsated throbbed and was more pensive and melancholy , while the final Allegro was a flurry of animated group discussion .

A most captivating concert.

running time 2 hours 20 minutes including interval




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