The King's Consort, Wigmore Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

The King's Consort award-winning ensemble flooded the Wigmore hall with its New Year rendering of Corelli's Concerto Grosso in G minor while most of the rest of the the capital's performers seemed to have deserted the field.

The 15 players selected for this performance gave a warm, generous rendering of the music which strode gravely, or flew joyously, as its variegated movements unfolded. An intermittent slight raggedness in the violins was offset by bounding energy from the bass section. "Fatto per la notte di Natale" was the work's subtitle, and its celebratory finale had a definitely Handelian feel. After which came Handel proper in the form of his Concerto Grosso in F: the group made full use of this broader canvas, giving a nice characterisation to each of the contrasting movements.

The evening's still centre turned out to be the middle movement of the work that followed Vivaldi's Il Grosso Mogul concerto, which artistic director Matthew Halls speculated might have been influenced by 18th-century Venice's fascination with the Silk Road dwellers with whom it was doing business. After a first movement of notable virtuosity, solo violinist Stephanie-Marie Degand entered graceful musical conversation with Halls on the harpsichord that held us rapt.

By rounding off their concert with a rarity followed by one of Bach's best-loved works, this ever-youthful group showed themselves at their best. Biber's Battalia a 10 in D minor is a pure craziness of animal cacophony. But returning the audience to exquisite sanity, Degand and the British violinist Matthew Truscott,settled the spirits in Bach's Concerto for two violins in D minor, well, all but those Menuhin and Oistrakh hovering overhead.

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