REVIEW: Clever programme from Ensembe Zefiro amuses audience

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Ensemble Zefiro ( Alfredo Bernadini, Paolo Grazzi, Dileno Baldin, Francesco Meucci, Alberto Grazzi, Giorgio Mandolesi).
Michael Fowler Centre 10 August.
Reviewed by John Button.

In their cleverly contrived programme this ensemble of authentic wind instruments visited the Baroque period of music in the first half and the early Classical period in the second , and they did so with playing of enormous skill and panache.

This was not a long concert but, given the strain on the players, particularly the two natural horns, this was understandable.

The concert opened with two short pieces by Handel dating from the 1720s, and each taken from early operas, but the two works that ended the first half were of a greater interest.

The Sonata by Johann Fasch proved to be a natty, highly contrapuntal, piece for oboes and bassoons that made one wonder why he is so little known.

Telemann used to be considered a rather earnest contemporary of J.S.Bach but, as his huge output has become better known, he has been revealed as a composer of real invention, and his Overture in F was a sheer delight; unexpected harmonic shifts contrasting with a sprightly set of dances in the French style.

The second half was devoted to Haydn and Mozart.

The Haydn work, written for performance ourdoors, fully exploits the 'hunting' sound of the horns, in which the two players amazed with the dexterity of their playing without valves - nearly coming adrift, but always somehow surviving.

The Mozart Divertimento K.252/240a opens in a wonderfully lyrical fashion and features, unusually, a Polonaise, and was probably composed as an accompaniment to a banquet (tafelmusik).

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The concert finished with an amusing encore - a kind of 'Farewell' in which just one player is left on stage. 

Brilliant playing, and great entertainment.


Review by John Button. Original article published on Stuff/Dominion Post.