Bach for Breakfast

Bach for Breakfast is one of a number of mealtime-based concerts at Overseas House. At the beginning we were told that the series is a sell-out year after year: the programme proudly displays Fringe laurels for the past nine years’ shows alongside the glittering credentials of its musicians. Consequently, the room was full to bursting. Each concert is different, allowing different performers to show off their repertoire, but today’s pianist Ashley Fripp will perform several more times over the next week.

The concert opened with Fripp playing Bach’s French Suite no. 5. His technique was impeccable: every mordant and trill was perfectly placed, while the complex series of runs presented no problem to him. The Courante and Gigue are particularly lively pieces and had heads nodding throughout the audience. However, even the slower movements had extremely complicated passages, all of which were played expertly.

Jonathan Bloxham took to the stage next, performing Bach’s Cello Suite No 1. The prelude is one of the most famous pieces for cello, but Bloxham made his mark on it and the rest of the suite. The audience’s placement on one level reduced its view of the stage, but it was still possible to see Bloxham’s hair flying about dramatically with the music. More important than the sight is the sound and the suite was played beautifully. There were some squeaks on high notes but this intense solo performance made up for such discrepancies.

Violinist Mathieu van Bellen joined Bloxham for Handel’s Passacaglia, arranged by Halvorsen for cello and violin. They had saved the best till last: this was quite the piece to end the performance. It’s a passionate and almost impossibly difficult piece which had the two double- and triple-stopping as a matter of course. There were also some fun pizzicato segments and spectacular moments of interaction between the two. Following the concert is a breakfast of tea, coffee and pastries, prompting the question: is there a better way to start the day than with Bach and pastry?

Reviews by Larry Bartleet

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The Blurb

Thirteenth sell-out series! International prize-winners including cellists Brian O'Kane, Jun Sasaki, pianist Ashley Fripp and flautist Matthew Featherstone perform works by Bach and contemporaries. Different artists and programmes each concert. Tea/coffee and pastries afterwards.