Radio Notes9:00, 29th March 2017
The seasons are turning at the BBC Radio 3 Early Music Show; Lucie Skeaping shares some highlights coming in spring
I’m hugely looking forward to a good old natter with the super-talented Robert Hollingworth this quarter. Mind you, it’s amazing he’s found the time: his group I Fagiolini gives up to 50 concerts a year, from the BBC Proms to New York’s Lincoln Center and townships in South Africa. They’ve been described as ‘anarchic’ and ‘lots of fun’, partly due to their innovative performances of Monteverdi where they break all the rules by actually staging his madrigals like mini-operas. We discuss the ensemble’s rise, why they do it ‘their way’ and what the future holds – and in between, we’ll hear some glorious tracks including a sneak preview from their latest recording (released in April), and Striggio’s Mass in 40 parts – their own edition of which won the Gramophone Early Music Award. I just hope Robert’s mantelpiece is strong enough to hold all these accolades!
The following week, for International Women’s Day, the much acclaimed soprano Ruby Hughes gives us a programme which includes rare arias by 17th-century female composers. Expect a healthy dose of Caccini and Strozzi, and some divine sounds from singing nuns Claudia Sessa and the Monterverdi-influenced Lucrezia Vizzana, whose mental health suffered as a result of her convent incarceration. We’re recording Ruby and her co-performers live in concert at King’s Place and they’ve also promised Dido’s lament, and pieces from the nimble fingers of lutenist Jonas Nordber.
Still in Italy, the last Sunday in March provides an hour of near perfection in the shape of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons performed by the Avison Ensemble and soloist Pavlo Beznosiuk, from Gateshead’s Free Thinking festival. Composed around 1720 as part of a set of 12 concertos (his Op.8), the Four Seasons is arguably the most popular, or at least most identifiable, work on the planet and has been arranged for every possible combination of instruments – all the more amazing since it was only rediscovered in the 1920s. This is word-painting well before its time, and what vivid images they are: plants, birds, insects and streams, merry peasants dancing, drinking and sleeping it off or sliding about on the ice – and all set against a backdrop of the changing weather.
Also this quarter, look out for programmes on Mary Magdalene, the Manheim School, a feast of Monteverdi, and more! Do join me if you can.
Follow Lucie on Twitter (@lucieskeaping) to keep up with the latest news from the Early Music Show; or visit www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/earlymusicshow.
All broadcast details correct at time of press.