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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Flutsch

Abendmusick by Bach & Buxtehude: Instruments of Time and Truth

★★★★★

Review: Instruments of Time and Truth Summer Concert Series, at Christ Church Cathedral, concerts every Tuesday night until 8 August 2023. Tickets £18. Free to under 26s. Book tickets here.

[Disclosure: IT&T provided me with a ticket to this concert for the purposes of this review.]

Oxford’s own Baroque orchestra, IT&T, started its much loved summer concert series on a very wet and grey Tuesday evening. Once again, IT&T is performing six concerts in this year’s summer series. This means that each Tuesday night, Oxford’s lucky residents will be able to attend a beautiful, historically informed performance of Baroque music in the exquisite surrounds of Christ Church Cathedral.

Painting of Buxtehude by Johannes Voorhout, 1674.

The theme for this first concert was the musical interplay between Danish-German composed Dietrich Buxtehude and J.S. Bach. Students of this period will know that Buxtehude played a pivotal role in Bach’s musical development and had a profound impact on his compositional style. It was such a privilege to hear that significant chapter in the history of music come alive with sonatas written by both composers in original and new arrangements.


From left to right, Catherine Lathan, Rachel Byrt, Susanne Heinrich and Christopher Bucknall.


These concerts are always a treat, not only because of the virtuosity of the musicians but because the musicians talk about the pieces, giving us some very personal insights. In this concert, harpsichordist/organist Christopher Bucknall spoke about how the beauty of Bach’s organ music, particularly organ sonata BWV528, was a decisive factor in his decision to dedicate his life to music. After such a passionate introduction, the sonata in question sparkled.

The voice flute.

This concert was also the first time I’ve heard a featured voice flute live. The voice flute was developed as an extension of the transverse flute during the Baroque era as composers and musicians sought greater expressive potential. Musician Catherine Latham managed to entice the most evocative and gentle tones from her voice flute, filling the cathedral with rich, owlish sweetness.

Once again, the Cavatina Chamber Music Trust is paying for tickets for under 26s for all concerts in this series. Given the age diversity in the audience, unusual in concerts of Baroque music, Cavatina’s generous gift proves that cost rather than inclination is the main barrier to young people attending historically informed performances.

These concerts are a privilege and a treat – one hour of beauty. If you are rested, you can delve into intellectual side of the concert. If you are exhausted, you can just sit and let the music wash away your fatigue.

 

If you enjoyed reading this review, you may enjoy reading my other IT&T concert reviews here.

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