PROMS / Academy of Ancient Music - Royal Albert Hall/BBC 2/Radio 3

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The Independent Culture
Monday night's Prom afforded a now relatively rare chance to hear Christopher Hogwood's Academy of Ancient Music in London, an opportunity recognised by the BBC through live television coverage. The AAM was one of Britain's pioneering original-instrument orchestras, and there was an element of nostalgia in hearing them perform an all-Bach programme with a team of soloists featuring two singers associated with them from the start: master craftsman James Bowman, counter- tenor, and the inimitable bass, David Thomas - a true original. The choice of Pieces d'occasion such as Bach's Magnificat and Fourth Orchestral Suite, with blazing trumpets and oboes at full tilt, was clearly right for the festive atmosphere of the Proms, though, perversely enough, it was the more introspective funeral motet, Komm, Jesu, Komm, in a well- shaped performance by the Choir of New College, Oxford, under their chorus master Edward Higginbottom, that had most impact on the Promenaders. Perhaps for many this was a discovery, and the clearly articulated but full-toned singing of the New College trebles was indeed a treat: the college choir schools are still, and must continue to be, one of the cornerstones of this country's musical heritage. The AAM made their own stylish contribution throughout, with nicely judged tempi from Hogwood, and there was a fine account of the Concerto for Two Violins in D minor from Simon Standage and Micaela Comberti, a particularly well-matched pair.

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