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Ionarts-at-Large: AkAMus Rocks Corelli

In the fourth concert of their little mini-residency in Munich’s Prinzregenten Theater, the Academy for Ancient Music Berlin (AkAMus) appeared before a very decent crowd last Saturday. Not like on their last outing, where the concert venue, a smaller scaled Bayreuth replica, was apparently two thirds empty. It’s heartening, that the rather un-adventurous Munich crowd cared enough about one of the world’s best early music groups to turn out in decent numbers. And what a gift they got!

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Giovanni Bendedetto Platti,
Concerti Grossi,
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
Harmonia Mundi

Akamus on ionarts:

But first they were treated to an exhibit of the great acoustic of the venue by one particularly persistent cougher, so persistently, so loudly, that the crowed veered between amusement and reaching for their death-ray guns. The simple joys and pleasures, the uplifting joie de vivre of Corelli in the Concerto Gross op.6/4 in the feathery AkAMus musicking, was like having a fresh PIMM’S shoved in your hand as you enter a promising summer party of new friends.

My neophyte company, still raw from a mindlessly boring, achingly sincere violin recital the week before, immediately picked up what they were all about: “It’s like a rock band, the way they play. It just happens to be classical music.” Which is exactly what they did: all in the service of unstuffy, immediate musical entertainment… allowing the music to do what it was meant to do—entertain!—rather than stifling it with decorum. With sprits this high, who would begrudge the natural horns—in Vivaldi’s Concerto for two Horns (RV 538), at a fiendish tempo—being more on the lively and liberal side than that of accuracy.

The unsuspected pleasures of Giovanni Benedetto Platti and his Concerto Grosso in G minor (after Corelli’s Violin Sonata op.5/5) were a soothing-riveting-soothing-riveting-soothing delight in five movements. A concerto chimera for recorder, cobbled together mostly from Platti and based on Corelli, was the last of four sets before intermission, and the recorder acrobatics of Christoph Huntgeburth in this fun-house tour-de-force left the audience itching to come back for more after intermission, rather than silently regret that they can’t go home already, because it would look bad with their subscription holder seat neighbors.

It went on like this, lightly thrilling all along the way, with the Corelli Sonata for Violin & Basso Continuo op.5/6 a particular pleasure during which violinist and leader Georg Kallweit and Lutenist galore Lee Santana (subbing for the indisposed AkAMus regular) displayed their musical instincts and keen ears. Only the unnecessary theatrical, tip-toed, one-by-one walking entry for Corelli’s La Follia Sonata (in Geminiani’s Concerto Grosso version) struck me as unnecessarily artificial (and corny à la Tafelmusik) in a concert that had refreshingly been stripping away artifice all evening. No matter, amid such enchantment.