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 traveled 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
Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno
… The gossiping and all other frivolous things that the public is bombarded with today are only a screen of smoke through which one should pass with eyes closed in order to reveal the serious stuff and the true joy behind it.
I, too, found it on my return from the Bach pilgrimage. It was in the Croatian Music Institute during a concert held by the sparsely mentioned, but in no way secret society that has been active for twenty years under the name of the Croatian Baroque Ensemble. These excellent musicians, led by Laurence Cummings, the English master-builder of musical cathedrals, were not digging for bones, but rather resurrected Bach’s brilliant contemporary and compatriot Handel with the first Croatian performance of his oratorio “Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Desinganno.” Even if the libretto of this Catholic moralistic ode to the victory of time and prudence over vain beauty and easy pleasures might be slightly outdated, Handel’s music is quite modern and timeless. The oratorio ends with a violin solo composed by Handel for Arcangelo Corelli, of which Laura Vadjon, the great violin master leading the Croatian Baroque Ensemble, dreamed about for ten years. She finally had a chance to play it. And she played it in a way that put my heart in its place and Croatia, at least as far as serious music is concerned, where it belonged, which is the truly joyful heart of Europe.
Branimir Pofuk, Večernji list, February 2020
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