Composé a l’ordre du Roi: Instruments of Time and Truth
Review: Instruments of Time and Truth Summer Concert Series, from 28 June - 2 August 2022. Tickets £15, Concessions available, 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, Instruments of Time and Truth, is back with its exquisite summer series of six concerts. Each Tuesday night, you can sit in the magnificent surrounds of Christchurch Cathedral and listen to elegant Baroque music played, on period instruments, by some of the best musicians in the UK.
The musicians at rehearsal earlier in the day. From left to right, Davina Clarke, Anna Cursor, Edmund Saddington, Danni O'Neill, Holly Teague, Edward Higginbotton and Reiko Ichise - who stepped in to play at the last minute.
The theme for Tuesday’s concert was sacred music composed by the order of the King, in this case, French King Louis XIV. The programme featured sacred and intimate petit motets, composed by François Couperin (1668-1733), to be performed in the chapel at Versailles. The programme also featured Corelli’s Trio Sonata in A Minor Op.3, No. 12. Couperin was a great admirer of Corelli’s elegant and refined music, introducing Corelli’s trio sonata form to France.
Reiko Ichise's basse de viole. I took this photo just before the concert started.
There was something expansive and luxurious about sitting in the hushed, sacred space of Christchurch Cathedral and listening to refined and elegant Baroque music. The effect was heightened under the musical direction of Edward Higginbottom, on organ, who always takes care to try and recreate an authentic listening experience.
So with the first petit motet, Tabescere me fecit (My zeal hath consumed me) from Psalm 119 – we had the two sopranos standing in the wings, unseen, while their voices floated to us through the vast spaces of the Cathedral.
What a beautiful and meditative way to start this divine concert.
One of the things I love about these concerts is that they are the perfect length – one hour long. One hour is long enough to have a beautiful, musical experience, which can quiet the stresses of the day, but short enough not to exhaust a mind tired from a day's work. This makes them genuinely refreshing and every time I leave one of these concerts, I feel restored.
I took this photo of Christchurch College from the entrance to the Cathedral, just after the concert.
I thought the programming of this concert was especially clever, with Corelli’s Trio Sonata in A minor, Op. 3 No. 12, placed half way through the Couperin pieces. Corelli’s Trio Sonata is such a beautiful piece, with an extraordinary playfulness between the first and second violin parts. It was so much fun to listen to and injected some sparkle into this otherwise thoughtful, meditative concert.
It was clear that the musicians loved playing the Trio Sonata too and their enthusiasm helped to forge a strong connection between the audience and the music.
I took this photo at the final bow.
We are privileged in Oxford to have this extraordinary ensemble on our doorstep. I do think it’s worth a trip up from London especially for these concerts – they would make the perfect end to a lovely day out in Oxford. What an incredible start to this superb concert series.
The Cavatina Chamber Music Trust is providing free tickets for all concerts in this series to under 26s. This meant that the audience for this concert was beautifully diverse – what a joy it was to see people of all ages enjoying this beautiful music. The only way ensembles like Instruments of Time and Truth will have a future is if young people develop a taste for the serene luxury that is listening to live period ensembles – so thank you Cavatina Chamber Music Trust for helping to sure up the future of this genre.