“A perfect blend of ‘modern’ playing with ‘historical’ awareness,” was how the magazine Gramophone described the Berlin Baroque Soloists. And in fact, rarely will you find an ensemble in which the playing on modern instruments and the knowledge of early musical practice come together so effortlessly and sensually. In this concert, the musicians – most of them members of the Berliner Philharmoniker – explore the fascinating relationship between English and Italian composers of the Baroque period.
Within this context, the leading figure of the age from today’s perspective was the German George Frideric Handel who, after a time in Italy, rose to become the most important composer of opera and oratorio in England. His contemporaries, however, quarrelled about which was the greater composer: Handel or the Italian Francesco Geminiani, who had been working in London since 1714. This dispute was triggered by an essay by Charles Avison, a student of Geminiani and one of the most successful composers in the country. When it comes to England, another name must be mentioned: Henry Purcell, the most important British composer of the 17th century. Although he is from an earlier generation of composers than the three previously mentioned and never went to Italy, he was also influenced by its music and played a decisive role in anchoring the Italian style in English music.