Brandenburg in Bowral
Saturday 9 November 2013

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

November seems to be the time for what surely we hope is becoming an annual visit from the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Such is the renown of this group that St Judeís literally was full; and it surely was a full program although not the full orchestra: some eleven players led by Resident Concert Master Matt Bruce brought the riches of this group. A signature feature of the Orchestra is the use of period instruments while playing works, mostly of Italian origin, from the Baroque era.

Most of the instruments - violins, Baroque viola, Baroque cello, Baroque guitar, harpsichord - are well known while two were new, at least to the writer. The cornetto or little horn, played by Matt Manchester, is a Renaissance period wind instrument of unusual shape and materials, usually wood covered in leather as shown in the photo. Matt Manchester suggested that its sound was not unlike a counter tenor. The theorbo is a type of lute developed in Florence in the late 16th Century and played through the 18th Century. Because of its size it gives a powerful sound which was evident through Tommie Andersonís playing.

The program in two parts presented pieces by some well known composers of the period such as Corelli and Vivaldi and some less well known: Diego Ortiz, Cipriano de Rore, Cima. Notable was a work by Isabella Leonarda who apparently was the most productive woman composer of the Baroque period. It is wonderful to note that she was an Ursuline nun; she lived and worked in relative obscurity in a convent yet was an accomplished composer of some two hundred works. The Orchestra presented one of her pieces, Sonata Duodecima for violin and basso continuo.

Again we were privileged to have this wonderful Orchestra perform such a range of composers and works with the delightful sound of the period instruments. May they have a long and productive life and may we blessed with their presence again.