A weekly ‘concert’ taken from the finest recordings in the extensive Academy of Ancient Music catalogue: join us each Sunday at 3pm on Spotify as we unveil a new playlist of music, personally chosen by AAM players, directors, soloists and guests.
We’re delighted to bring you a very special programme on 19 July 2020 as part of our #SpotifySundays playlist: AAM Principal Oboist Leo Duarte joins us to select his favourites from across the AAM discography. Leo’s choices demonstrate the full breadth of recording activity from Hogwood to Egarr:
‘“What fun!”, I thought to myself when asked to put together this playlist. Little did I realise how difficult making a selection would be; there’s simply too much to choose from! I decided, therefore, to limit myself to tracks which I have in my CD collection (with one exception, as you’ll see). I was also torn between whole works and individual movements but opted, in true eighteenth century fashion, to mix and match. Please do go ahead and explore the full works if they grab your attention.’
Leo is Principal Oboe of the Academy of Ancient Music and appears regularly as guest-principal with the English Baroque Soloists, the Sixteen, the Dunedin Consort, Arcangelo, La Nuova Musica, the English Concert, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment among others. As a chamber musician and concerto soloist, he has performed at the Wigmore Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and live on BBC Radio 3. He is Artistic Director of Opera Settecento, with whom he has conducted many critically acclaimed performances including the modern-day premières of Hasse’s Demetrio, and Handel’s pasticcio operas, Elpidia, Ormisda and Venceslao at the London and Halle Handel Festivals. In 2022 he will conduct the première of Bärenreiter’s new edition of Handel’s Fernando.
Always eager to challenge the status quo in search of overlooked aspects of performance practice, Leo is dedicated to research. He has made editions of numerous eighteenth century works and is currently preparing the AAM’s highly praised performing edition of Handel’s Brockes Passion for publication.
‘I know that Paul Goodwin has already shared the slow movement of this concerto with SpotifySundays, but I had to share another movement with you, the reason being that it is the very track which inspired me to become a baroque oboist. At school I had to write an essay comparing two recordings of a piece. I chose the first movement of the Albinoni concerto I was learning for my Grade 6 and was astounded by how each individual note of the baroque oboe, played so compellingly here by Frank de Bruine, had its own unique colour. Listen closely, some notes stand out more than others, which have a duskier quality. That was it. I was hooked. And the rest, as they say, is history.’
‘It may not be immediately obvious why the concerto grosso and the Brockes-Passion belong together, but in actual fact the Vivace and the Allegro both originally formed part of the overture to the passion. The middle largo, on the other hand, does not belong to the passion music. It reminds me very much of the slow movement of the Albinoni concerto in its string figurations, but Handel’s personal touch is sharing the figures between two solo cellos, over which floats the solo oboe… I promise this won’t become a playlist of baroque oboe favourites! The following aria is one the most astonishing from the passion. ‘Heul du Schaum!’ – ‘Weep, you scum!’ I remember choosing the harshest reed in the box to record this and, inspired by Richard Egarr’s choice of gut-churning harmonic inflections, improvising the scummiest embellishments I could egurgitate [sic!]. It doesn’t do to try to be beautiful all the time!’
Bach – Concerto in F major, BWV 1057
‘Time for a bit of Bach – a whole work in fact. This piece is more familiar in its other guise as Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, but here is a fantastic example of Bach reworking his own material to suit a different purpose. All of the flashy violinistic figures become, if possible, even flashier as he adapts them for his primary instrument, the keyboard. Richard’s playing really is exhilarating, and his spirit and exuberance – which I have come to associate so strongly with the AAM – overflows in this recording.’
‘This is the only disc that isn’t part of my own CD collection and – because I enjoy listening to recordings I don’t already know – I’ve given it the biggest airtime in this playlist. Locke’s incidental music to The Tempest is one of the great treasures of English Restoration theatre music. I knew the instrumental numbers intimately but had no idea, until Spotify recommended it, that Hogwood had recorded them alongside vocal items, by composers other than Locke, with the AAM in 1977. I wouldn’t be born for nearly a decade after this recording was produced. To my ears it sounds raw, elemental, rough-hewn – it is, after all, tempestuous music. But the AAM doesn’t sound like this any more, and some people might argue that’s no bad thing; the intervening years have seen the honing and polishing of Early Music performance. Nevertheless, the intrepid spirit and sense of discovery which Hogwood engendered is palpable in this recording, and without these pioneering strides we wouldn’t be where we are today. I’ve tacked on a characterful little piece by Purcell – who was Locke’s junior at court, and who wrote an ode entitled ‘What hope for us remains now he is gone’ on Locke’s death – to round off this Restoration set. I couldn’t believe my ears when I first heard it as a teenager.’
Mozart – Horn Concerto No. 3, K.447: 3. Rondo
Anthony Halstead, Christopher Hogwood
‘From one buzzy instrument to another. The wonders of the early natural horn are similar to the baroque oboe in that every note has an individual colour, the difference being that on the horn the contrast has been dialled up to the max. Perhaps that’s one of the reason’s why another movement from this piece also features on Paul Goodwin’s selection (I promise I made my selections before looking to see what everyone else had chosen!). Mozart was good pals with the horn player he wrote the concerto for, and he knew how to exploit every facet of this versatile instrument, including its humorous side. This particular movement has plenty to entertain us. I love the frenetic little scale in the cellos and basses at the end of the fourth bar (00:04) which comes back again and again. The distinctive sound of the full Mozartean orchestra entering a few bars later is a gloriously burnished example of the inimitable sound of the AAM. Listen out, as well, for some pestiferous fleas in the violin section and for Hogwood and Halstead’s wonderfully subtle comic timing.‘
‘Next, two quintessential Bach choruses from a disc I practically wore out in my teens. I was only supposed to choose one but couldn’t decide which, so have both! The sound of the boy trebles’ voices is clear and bright, the playing of the orchestra is lithe and sprightly, and you won’t hear perkier flutes than Rachel Beckett and Guy Williams at 00:25 in the Magnificat!’
Beethoven – Cantata on the Accession of Emperor Leopold II, WoO 88
Chen Reiss, Richard Egarr
‘Here, again, is the AAM pushing against the boundaries of performance practice with Beethoven. For this recording, made last year, we committed to restoring Beethoven’s original Viennese pitch, which meant the woodwind players getting hold of a completely new set of instruments and learning how to play them with each other. This is the present-day incarnation of Hogwood’s enterprising spirit. This is why AAM is still one of the most exciting orchestras to work with. Yes, you can hear moments where we might be wrestling with the old technology, but it’s surely worth it, if for nothing else than the exceptional solo playing of Sarah McMahon on the cello and Rachel Brown on the flute. Rachel is playing one of the most beautiful and important antique flutes from her collection, an instrument she rarely gets the opportunity to play because of the complacent conventions period orchestras have unwittingly fallen into.’
ENCORE: Hummel – Septet for Piano, Flute, Oboe, Horn, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass, Op. 74: I. Allegro con spirito
Aya Okuyama, Milos Valent, Solamente Naturali
‘And finally, this little number from the Slovakian period instrument ensemble, Solamente Naturali. This strikingly-scored dramatic movement is a colossal workout for the pianist, and richly rewarding for all the others concerned – players and listeners alike. The minuet which follows is unlike any other minuet I know, and well worth exploring if this piques your interest. Fingers crossed AAM and Richard Egarr might put this work into a concert programme, or on disc in the future!’