CD review: Concerti Bizarri

First published in the Guardian on 19 May, 2016

Concerti Bizarri
Irish Baroque Orchestra/Huggett (Linn)

Nowadays the job title ‘concerto soloist’ usually exempts a musician from regular orchestral duties (and has a significantly different pay grade attached) but conductor/violinist Monica Huggett makes the point that 18th century soloists were often just virtuoso ensemble principals taking their turn front-of-stage. And that’s what happens on this fine album from the Irish Baroque Orchestra. The group basically reconfigures members of various European early music outfits and makes its Linn debut with obscure concertos by Heinichen, Graupner and Fasch, as well as duo and trio concertos by Vivaldi and Telemann, all played by its own excellent rank-and-file. Not all the music is entirely scintillating — I’m struggling to recall any defining features in Fasch’s Concerto in G for oboe da caccias, violas, bassoons and continuo, despite the fact I’m listening to it as I type — but the playing is lovely, with great poise from Huggett and standout charismatic bassoon playing from Peter Whelan.