San Francisco Classical Voice
English Delights From the PBO
by Jonathan Rhodes Lee
“That greatest of all `English’ composers, Handel, welcomed us with his symphony from Saul. This piece from Handel’s fourth English oratorio was the perfect choice to open a set featuring a world-class orchestra and a guest conductor who also happens to be one of early music’s most technically gifted harpsichordists.
“Oboist Marc Schachman’s playing of rapid, Italianate passagework was stunning.
“Egarr is a charismatic, energetic, and musically sensitive performer, who clearly brought a huge helping of enthusiasm to the table. The audience gobbled up every morsel he delivered… Egarr’s appeal extended far beyond these ancillary features. At the root of it was his consummate musicianship.
“This was a special program — a rare opportunity to sample a couple hours’ worth of English instrumental music and to be reminded that England was never, ever the “Land ohne Musik.” …Egarr and the PBO deserve the most unabashed praise.”
Read more online.
The Examiner | JANUARY 28, 2012
Philharmonia Baroque surveys over a century of the English Baroque
SF Classical Music Examiner
“Egarr is a highly personable individual, who provided informative remarks for each of the compositions he had selected for his program…
“Arne’s harpsichord concerto abounds with deceptive cadences, almost erratic phrases, and gruff high-energy demands on the soloist. Egarr hurled himself into this rhetorical context with great vigor, first warming up the orchestra as conductor and then merrily galumphing his way through the solo work. The whole affair was as refreshing as it was challenging to one’s usual expectations…
“Egarr brought us to more familiar ground with a suite of instrumental selections from Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen. He explained that these were his personal favorites; and that is how he conducted them, offering particularly energetic readings of the dance selections…
“Throughout the evening Egarr made his mark with lively interpretations. He was both comfortable and capable in the period practice of performing while conducting. His rapport with the ensemble was good… the evening proceeded at a brisk pace that well suited its diverse breadth of offerings.” Read more online.
Richard Egarr revives baroque music
By Daniel Means
The Daily Californian
Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm
“Guest-conducting the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Richard Egarr, aimed at striking a balance between celebrating the peculiarities of the period, while reinvigorating modern interest in the musical era.
“Richard Egarr was a veritable triple-threat as the orchestra’s enthusiastic, oriental-robed conductor, an energetic harpsichordist and even a comedic emcee at Herbst Theatre last Friday. Such eccentric multi-tasking provided rich moments where he would have one hand commanding the keys of his harpsichord while using the other to emphatically gesture to his orchestra to the point of caricature…
“Egarr’s enthusiasm moved the orchestra to musically narrate dramatic scenes, ripe with epic grandeur. In a piece by once soldier and composer William Lawes, the orchestra created vast landscapes with their rich, voluminous notes…
“Egarr displayed exquisite control over the emotional direction of pieces, producing dynamic movements with fine-tuned transitions between pristine calms and violent crescendos…” Read more online.
All Things English: Richard Egarr and the Philharmonia Baroque
Cy Ashley Webb
“The synergy between Egarr and the PBO seems obvious. His running commentary on the music between pieces added enormously to the program…
“Egarr’s considerable keyboard skills were on display for the better part of the evening as he conducted from the harpsichord. It’s often easy to overlook the harpsichord as it chugs along in the background, providing the basso continuo that drives the music forward. However, in the hands of Egarr, it becomes variously percussive, mournful, exuberant – all the while pushing the music forward.
“Principal March Schachman and Gonzalo Ruiz, both on oboe, tendered compelling performances..
“The Philharmonia Baroque excels at uncovering unknown or relatively unappreciated gems, such as Williams Lawes.” Read more online.