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Fredersdorff's farewell recital a fitting tribute
This delightful concert was a swan song for Julia Fredersdorff, Musical Director of the Peninsula Summer Music Festival for the last 11 years. On this occasion Julia, on violin, was accompanied by the French harpsichord player Aline Zylberajch in three of Bach's violin sonatas.
The combination of violin and harpsichord was very effective as it provided contrasting tones and timbre, with the harpsichord creating a richly textured underlay while the violin was often lyrical, soaring above that matrix. In several places the harpsichord played the role of a second soloist as well as that of accompanist.
The concert covered three of the six sonatas, each in a different key representative of a different emotion: C Minor (the key of love and the loss of love), B Minor (the key of awaiting fate) and D Major (the key of rustic delights). These were early mature works demonstrating Bach's master of form and imagination. They were written shortly before his appointment to the post of Cantor of St Thomas' Church in Leipzig in 1723, and would no doubt have impressed his new employers.
The C minor sonata was suitably melancholic, similar in tone to Bach's later great Aria, Erbarme dich, in the St Matthew Passion, according to Fredersdorff. The Largo was especially touching with a chromatic line that was lilting and haunting in its expressive phrasing, while the Allegro was a delightful conversational interchange between the two players.
The B Minor sonata had an ominous threatening quality, and provided a good example of the beautiful interplay between the two instruments, with the harpsichord steady and regular in beat allowing the violin to soar in a lyrical line above it. There was great variety between the movements from emotional turmoil to the sweet exploratory Andante and finishing with an energetic Allegro.
The third sonata in D Major was dance-like in personality, with movements that covered the full range of emotions from delight, through soulful regret to a cheerful, bucolic finale.
The audience was clearly highly appreciative of the musicality of the performers, earning an encore in the form of a little prelude by Francois Couperin which provided a cheerful and charming full-stop to Fredersdorff's 11-year journey.