Dunelm Consort and Players’ first concert of the year featured some of Durham’s finest singers and instrumentalists performing both cherished and lesser known German Baroque works in the atmospheric setting of Hild Bede’s cavernous chapel.
Opening the concert was the Dunelm Players, with a lively performance of JS Bach’s second ‘Brandenburg Concertos’. The first movement was set up by wonderful interplay between the concerto soloists: Delilah Ferry-Swainson on recorder, Tadwyn Davies on flute, Amy Ying on violin and Martha Lily Dean on trumpet. Excellent use of terraced dynamics was employed throughout this movement, although at times the lower strings became a little dominating in livelier sections in which the full ensemble was playing and at times rushing at moments led to a lack of ensemble tightness. A movement which spotlights the violin, recorder and flute soloists, the second slower movement provided a welcome contrast to the spritely first movement. Opened by a deeply expressed dialogue between violin and flute, they were then joined by the recorder in dialogue. Continuo playing was skillful throughout, with Gabriel Francis-Dehqani on cello and Oliver Morrell on harpsichord maintaining tight ensemble, even at this slower pace. The gentle rise and fall through suspension and resolutions created an emotionally charged performance with good ensemble communication and heightened by well-delivered ornamentation by all. I particularly enjoyed the warmth of the flute’s mellow tone in this movement, especially in the lower range of the instrument’s tessitura. The final movement, with its emphatic opening which announces the return of the trumpet soloist, was begun with panache. Although less confident than the previous two movements in the middle of the movement, any confusion was well regained, and the end of the movement was delivered with conviction. The final trumpet lead into the end of the work was well-controlled and the performance finished with an excellent demonstration of ensemble tightness.