The Suite as a musical form was central to French instrumental music in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. An introductory prelude would be followed by a series of dance movements. Today’s program gathered individual movements from different composer’s into three suites. The first, Palais, drawing together pieces inspired by courtly life in baroque times. The second, Portraits, took the inventive theme of gathering a collection of pieces dedicated to famous composers, court officials or other notables. The final suite, Pastorale, was comprised of pieces inspired by idyllic country life.
Georgia Browne introduced each bracket and quickly built a rapport with the audience. She has a gift not only as a performer, but as a compere whose knowledge and passion for this music shines through in her informative and entertaining spoken program notes.
As a flutist Georgia Browne possesses extraordinary control of the baroque flute tone and a silky smooth technique that hides the intricate difficulties of playing an historical instrument. Tom Foster’s harpsichord playing showed him off as much more than an accompanist but as an equal musical partner. His realisations were sensitive, never overpowering the gentle flute, but often responding musically to the subtle phrasing and ornaments of the solo line. The three or so solo harpsichord movements not only offered a variety of tone colour but showed his solo playing skills. The Allemande La Superbe ou La Forqueray (F. Couperin) was an ideal lesson for musicians in the audience in what well played inégale sounds like.
French baroque music is a highly specialised style. The printed score often only provides an indication of what the music might sound like. The specialised ornaments (musical decorations such as trills) need to be added and a knowledge of the dance movements gives hints as to musical phrasing and style. Both of these performers are obvious experts in this style and this combined with their superb ensemble skills gave us a recital full of refined and sensitive playing.