Stylus Phantasticus: Instruments of Time and Truth
Updated: Jul 1, 2022
Review: Instruments of Time and Truth Summer Concert Series, from 8 July - 12 August 2021. Tickets available here. Free tickets available for people aged 8-25, call the box office on 01865 305 305.
[Disclosure: IT&T provided me with a ticket to this concert for the purposes of this review.]
Oxford’s early music ensemble, Instruments of Time and Truth, has returned to live music in triumph with this gorgeous and intimate concert, Stylus Phantasticus. Stylus Phantasticus marks the start of Time and Truth's Summer concert series.
Each Thursday evening, until mid-August, Time and Truth will present a small group of musicians, taken
from its larger ensemble, who will perform magnificent Baroque music in the sacred surroundings of Christchurch Cathedral.
Arriving at the concert.
The theme for this concert was to bring us music that formed part of Bach’s musical world. These are the compositions that Bach himself would have listened to and been familiar with. That’s the academic interest. The emotional heart of this concert was that three fantastic musicians chose to perform pieces that they absolutely love.
Just before the concert, the view from my socially distanced seat.
Each concert in the series is about one hour long. Stylus Phantasticus included 5 pieces, the first four by Bach’s predecessors and/or contemporaries and the final piece by Bach himself. For those following the intellectual aspect of this concert, the programming allowed the audience to hear, in detail, the effect of Bach’s musical context on Bach’s composition.
The musicians of Instruments of Time and Truth
The pieces were beautiful and varied – most I had never heard live before. The programming allowed each instrument to shine.
In rehearsal for another concert, Bojan Cicic with conductor, Edward Higginbottom.
There were moments of violin sorcery by Bojan Cicic, whose incredibly relaxed style of playing bring a sweetness of tone that is like a balm. Susanne Heinrich’s performance, particularly of the Hesse piece, the Peasant’s Dance, for viola da gamba, was full of lightness and joy. Chris Bucknall’s performance of Böhm’s Prelude, Fuge and Postlude in G minor for harpsichord was a revelation. In the Prelude, Bucknall’s hypnotic, repetitive chords filled the Cathedral and was a truly meditative experience.
When listening to Baroque music, I usually hear rich luxury or sacred spaces but in this concert, I heard something else – a detailed and refined enchantment; everything was precise, delicate and full of wonder.
Free Tickets for Young People
To help with ticket costs, the CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust is providing free tickets for people aged between 8-25. These free tickets should be booked either in person or over the phone – the booking process was easy and smooth.
Feature photo ©️Catherine Flutsch - taken just before the concert started.