A great start of the jubilee season of the Croatian Baroque Ensemble
Zagreb has a tradition of chamber music playing that has been going on for more than a century. During this season, the Zagreb Quartet celebrates its 100th anniversary, Zagreb Soloists are well over their 65th year, while the Croatian Baroque Ensemble marks 20 years of its establishment.
G. Battista Pergolesi, A. Scarlatti, F. Durante and G. Sammartini travelled from the North to the South of Italy in a select program of string concertos, concerti grossi and early symphonies with educational and artistic zest in an only seemingly relaxed atmosphere actually hiding great effort and discipline well above enthusiasm, turning it into well-founded artistic seriousness of primarily young musicians.
Jagoda Martinčević, Jutarnji list
CONCERT OF THE CROATIAN BAROQUE ENSEMBLE Adrian Butterfield opens one of the most beautiful music boxes
Sometimes you just do not know where you stand with today’s baroque ensembles.
There has been a lot of hype in the world, and here as well, around reinterpreting music from this vast period, especially in the second half of the 20th century, but there are still novelties coming up, recognized only by well-informed audiences. And these audiences have eventually turned into a real following of everything that is going on in the world that has been discovering historical instruments, unknown authors, reconstructing period performances and, in short, from the old and often unknown material creating something new, as it once was!
There is no other period in music history that has seen a revival such as this. In Croatia, it is the Croatian Baroque Ensemble that is in charge of this magic, the ensemble that celebrates its 20th anniversary of delighting numerous audiences that have been both learning and enjoying music with it.
The Ensemble occasionally crosses the border into neighboring periods, which was the case at the last concert of this year on December 15 in the Croatian Music Institute. This time the preciously ambitious artistic director and the first violinist of the ensemble, Laura Vadjon, invited Adrian Butterfield to be the Ensemble’s guest and open one of the most beautiful music boxes, the one containing Mozart’s works. This was the first time the ensemble used the A= 430 Hz tuning standard, which might not mean much to the average listener, but offered a new sound and an abundance of Amadeus’s ingenuity.
The Mozartkugeln in this box had none of the mournful, and sometimes bitter taste of his “serious” oeuvre. On the contrary, they were filled with the sweet sounds of the 18th century’s galant style in which the master from Salzburg participated before entering the Classical era. Virtuosity was never just a fun page in Mozart’s music, but something that was expected, if he had a performer in mind. He would have been happy to have our coloratura perfectionist Ivana Lazar instead of a castrato to sing the joyful motet “Exsultate jubilate” KV 165 and to lend her fine phrase and intelligent interpretation to Susanna’s aria in “The Marriage of Figaro”. The Croatian Baroque Ensemble participated with a light and airy sound, just like in the performance of the Andante in C Major, KV 315 with Ana Benić Šalinović’s perfect solo on the period flute.
Larger treats were served as Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major, KV 364, when violinist Butterfield was joined by the noble sound of viola played by Hiwote Tadesse, member of the Viola Ensemble. In the end, everything was concluded with Symphony No. 29 in A major, KV 201, one of Mozart’s works still reflecting the legacy of baroque Vivaldi, filled with dynamic contrasts and featuring a joyful finale. That was actually the atmosphere of the entire concert, which showed on the faces of all who participated. The Croatian Baroque Ensemble has a specific mission of exploring and teaching, thus delighting its audiences.
Jagoda Martinčević, Jutarnji list, December 2019
One of the best Zagreb ensembles
Musical Baroque in Zagreb is definitely not an academic, museum viewing of fossils of musical history any more, but a real lavish party with very vivid, witty and surprising musical forms as presented to us last night by maestro Niquet and Croatian Baroque Ensemble, which, after such season opening, we can safely claim is one of the best Zagreb ensembles.
Branimir Pofuk, Jutarnji list
Performance so great that it made strings break
During the excellent performance of the unreservedly engaged ensemble even strings were broken but this did not in any way obstruct the gallant musical ceremony when listeners were able to fantasize or perhaps feel as courtiers.
Maja Stanetti, Večernji list
Enviable technical skill, stylistic precision and distinct musicality
Throughout the concert excellent musicians of the Croatian Baroque Ensemble directed by the sure hand of Saša Britvić showed enviable skill, stylistic precision, distinct musicality and attention to detail. This was especially visible in the performance of symphonies but also in the cooperation with one of the best Croatian sopranos Ivana Lazar, whose performances of concerto arias left the audience breathless. And these were really demanding arias, which Mozart wrote in his day for Aloysia Weber, the sister of his wife Constanza, wanting to show off the agility of her high-pitched coloratura soprano.
Danijela Pintarić, Sound Report, 21 January 2015