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

Angelic sounds and devilishly hard movements

Croatian Baroque Ensemble: Angels & Devils, soloist: Adrian Butterfield, Baroque violin and artistic direction, Croatian Music Institute, 14 December 2014

The last concert of the Croatian Baroque Ensemble this year was held under the symbolic title Angels & Devils. More specifically, confronting angels and devils in the programme of French and Italian Baroque music from the turn of the 17th century into the 18th century, whose authors – Rebel, Locatelli, Leclair and Rameau – competed at that time in rivalry showed that there was really no rivalry in their music. All of them, despite their strong personalities and differences are connected by a common bond and that is “theatrical gesture, both in the sense of dramatic, extra-musical – but essentially originally music(al) – turns in their works, and in the sense of movement, initiated by direct or stylized dance forms “. In the chosen works of that programme both soft angelic and devilishly hard virtuoso movements were represented equally, as well as the period’s dances, particularly popular in French ballet.

The guest at that concert was renowned violinist Adrian Butterfield from London, an expert in historical performances of Baroque music. He cooperated with several ensembles of that type, which use old instruments, such as the Stuttgart Baroque Orchestra, The London Handel Players or Revolutionary Drawing Room. With the Croatian Baroque Ensemble he was presented not only as the director and conductor but primarily as a soloist on Baroque violin in the Concerto for violin in A Major, Op. 7, No. 6 by Jean-Marie Leclair, and in Concerto for four violins in F major, Op. 4, No. 12 by Pietro Antonio Locatelli, in which he was joined by ensemble members as soloists Laura Vadjon, Anna Waszak and Silvio Richter. However, what was especially impressive was his cooperation with ensemble director Laura Vadjon, who was more than a match for him, in two compositions: Locateli’s Introduzione teatrale in G major, Op. 4, No. 4 for two solo violins and Leclair’s Sonata for two violins without bass in D Major, Op. 3, No. 6.

This programme included string players and two harpsichord players Pavle Mašić and Franjo Bilić, and in main parts of the programme we heard, in line with joyous pre-festive atmosphere, a bigger orchestra, which, in addition to string players also included wind instrument players. This was Baroque ballet music from the opus of two French authors: at the beginning they were adorable dancing characters of Jean-Fery Rebel, and at the end a suite from Pigmalion by Jean-Philippe Rameau, where string and wind instrument players and harpsichord and timpani of the Croatian Baroque Ensemble showed a high level of performance in a very precise, lively and temperamental interpretation under the direction of guest conductor Adrian Butterfield.

Višnja Požgaj, klasika.hr, 21 December 2014

Search for original pleasure

In the past ten years, HRBA (the favourite abbreviation for Croatian Baroque Ensemble) developed into a modern vocal-instrumental orchestra capable of performing the most demanding sheet music of Baroque and similar periods in a sovereign, authentic way. This was honed over time despite difficulties, in cooperation with the most eminent world artists, experts in the field of authentic Baroque interpretation. Exploring the right sound, ornamental work, agogics and articulation, gradually starting to use adequate old instruments or their replicas and bows and catguts was done for the purpose of “searching for original pleasure“.

Višnja Mažuran, Kulisa, 2010

Excellent performance on authentic instruments

Croatian Baroque Ensemble presented itself again to Osijek audience with a demanding programme, excellent performance and authentic instruments in the Capuchins Church. The audience was delighted by the works of G. B. Fontana and G. F. Händel performed by Laura Vadjon (Baroque violin), Ana Benić (traverso flute), Berislav Puškarić (bass) and Krešimir Has (harpsichord).

Lj. Bobalić, Glas Slavonije, 2010

Balanced and authentic sound

Within the framework of the “Lisinski Saturdays” cycle, Croatian Baroque Ensemble (HRBA) celebrated the tenth anniversary of its existence on 30 January. The programme chosen for the occasion (Händel’s “Messiah”) was performed under the high patronage of the President of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Stjepan Mesić, and the show was also attended by the newly elected president Dr. Ivo Josipović. The anniversary performance was supported by excellent young soloists Marija Kuhar Šoša, Helena Lucić, Dejan Vrbančić and Goran Jurić and Academic Choir “Ivan Goran Kovačić”. Maestro Saša Britvić presented once more his vision of Messiah based on ten years of cooperation with artistic director Laura Vadjon and all the members of the ensemble and many world experts in the performance of Baroque music. Britvić decided on a more chamber-style and more intimate sound in line with the original instruments of the ensemble, adequate number of performers and fine acoustics of the big hall Lisinski. Setting high performing criteria for himself, he usually managed to sustain undoubtedly balanced and authentic sound, convey the richness of choir and orchestral sheet music and create a pleasant background for solo arias.

Igor Koruga, Nacional, 2010