Academy of Ancient Music, Suzuki, Bertin

FRANK CLIFF St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

FRANK CLIFF

> St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

The first of three concertos by the Academy of Ancient Music to be given between now and March was a Bach programme directed from the keyboard by Masaaki Suzuki.

This was Suzuki's debut in this country.

In his native Japan he is apparently a leading Bach specialist and already halfway through a recording of the complete cantatas.

It was a programme devoted to works written during Bach's period in Leipzig; divided equally between the sacred and the secular.

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In Bach's first Suite in C Major Suzuki encouraged wonderfully musical playing from his fortes; rhythmically precise and beautifully phrased: all achieved with seemingly effortless ease.

The same feeling of spontaneous music-making pervaded the D Major harpsichord concerto with Suzuki as soloist.

A reworking of the E major violin concerto, common practice in Bach's day, Suzuki coaxed the lightest yet crystal clear playing from the strings achieving a near perfect balance with them and the harpsichord.

Two cantatas, a short No 54 and the much longer 35, exemplified the dichotomy between the secular and the sacred in Bach's music.

In both the soloist was the young French counter tenor Pascal Bertin whose stylish singing was a model of clarity and intelligence, thoroughly deserving of the encore in Vergnute Ruh from cantata 170 which ended the evening.

t A live performance of this concert from St John Smith's Square is on Radio 3 on Thursday October 21.

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