classical music

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The Independent Culture
That well-known authentic airline Lufthansa has lent its name with dependable loyalty to the annual Festival of Baroque Music at St James's Church, Piccadilly. Fortunately the rise of this summer celebration has coincided with the emergence of a sophisticated attitude to period- style performance. Nowadays nobody pursues the illusory aim of "recreating what the composer would have heard", and a liberal approach prevails. It's the spirit of the music-making that counts. So the international performers who arrive by courtesy of the sponsor do not have to rely on wax wings, man-powered engines and memories of Leonardo da Vinci: as long as the pilot and crew treat their passengers with respect, jets are just fine.

High-powered visitors for the 11th Festival which runs for a month from Wednesday, include the nearly 40-strong period instrument orchestra Concerto Koln (making their festival debut) and festival regulars Musica Antiqua Koln. The rising young Spanish ensemble Al Ayre Espanol and the Italina trio Corelliana will be there too. Most of the repertoire is unusually England-centred, because festival director Tess Knighton has taken the opportunity of the Purcell anniversary to place his music in the context of his European contemporaries. One of these appears somewhat bizarrely to be Alexander Goehr but otherwise the name of the game is "Purcell and the French Baroque", "Spanish music from the time of Purcell" and the like.

Alongside the guests runs the usual procession of leading names from closer to home. Florilegium make their first festival appearance on Friday, musical director Ivon Bolton conducts Handel along with the Goehr in the closing concert on 13 July, and to open there's more Handel from Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert with the soprano Nancy Argenta.

See listings for details