Eschewing the usual serving of Rachmaninov and Prokofiev offered by the Oxford Philomusica for Valentine’s Day this week (Fri 14th, 8pm, Sheldonian Theatre), I’m looking for an alternative, slightly leaner diet. The lively diversity of music from the renaissance and baroque periods this week proves that romantic music doesn’t have to be ‘Romantic’. This a point that my concert of the week is particularly looking to prove: The Fellowshippe of Musickers: I Goe Before My Darling (Fri 14th,7:30pm, Holywell Music Room). This early music group are influenced both by their academic research into period performance practice and by traditional folk traditions. This concert centres on musical depictions of romance, from the refined courtly love texts of the thirteenth-century troubadours to the rougher eroticism of sixteenth-century London. Using a vast selection of historical instruments, this concert promises a sideways glance on Valentine’s Day proceedings for those who find all the Russian Romanticism a little sickly.
The following night, the same venue hosts another superb concert by a ‘historically informed’ performer: Davitt Moroney: Solo Harpsichord Recital (Sat 15th, 8pm, Holywell Music Room). Moroney is widely recognised as a scholar and editor of music from the renaissance and baroque. As a performer, he has won countless prizes, including the 2000 Gramophone Early Music Award for a recording of the complete keyboard works of William Byrd. Moroney is a Professor of Music at the University of California, Berkeley, so this is a rare chance to hear him perform in the UK. The programme features works by Bach, Couperin, and Louis Marchand.
Finally, look out for the Turl Street Arts Festival this week (Thurs 13th to Sun 23rd, various venues). This annual festival is a collaboration between students from the three colleges based on Turl Street: Jesus, Exeter and Lincoln. The festival showcases a whole range of talents from across the arts with poetry readings, recitals, open mic events and drama, as well as art and dance workshops. Look out particularly for the opening concert (Sat 15th, 8pm, Exeter College Chapel). A talented group of student performers present a programme featuring three of Bach’s most widely acclaimed masterpieces: Brandenburg Concertos IV and V and the profoundly moving Magnificat.
For more information about any of the concerts featured, please follow the embedded links.