Claire Duff communicates impeccably with the group…with smiles from one performer to another (21 Feb 2017)
Reviewer Shauna Caffery from Golden Plec reviews An Hour of Pure Indulgence with Irish Baroque Orchestra, directed by Claire Duff. Read more here.
Engaging clarity and cohesiveness… vibrant playing…(22 Nov 2015)
IBO’s project “A Duel, A Jewel” was very warmly received by audience and press alike. Read the full review here
Formidable Irish team…infallible precision (15 Nov 2015)
IBO, led by Monica Huggett, featuring Resurgam choir and four outstanding Irish soloists, enjoyed a full house for their performance of Handel’s Messiah in the magnificent Lausanne Opera House, Switzerland (supported by Culture Ireland).
Read the full review here
Exhilarating performance by Irish Baroque Orchestra
IBO plays superbly from the start
“The evening brings some excellent solo playing from (Claire) Duff, as well as cellist Gavin Kibble, oboist Gail Hennessy and organist Malcolm Proud.” Michael Lee, Golden Plec (April 2015) Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno – Christ Church Cathedral Full Review
You are guaranteed a very special experience
“The movement is full of excitement and dynamism, all of which is emphasised in the brilliant performances of the players. This is the advent of Storm und Drang, of music being primarily dramatic in nature, and watching the Irish Baroque Orchestra playing, it’s clear that boy, do they love this one!” Matt Rafter, Golden Plec (February 2015) Masterworks: Essential Bach – Newman University Church Full Review
This concert shows off an ensemble clearly at the top of its game
“This is a deceptive work of nervy intensity, at times restless and unsettled, as if asking questions of both players and listeners. The virtuoso keyboard role receives a fine performance from Proud, ably matched by the full ensemble. The brilliant, bustling finale speeds through with slick and emphatic performances, and draws lengthy applause at the end” Michael Lee, Golden Plec (February 2015) Masterworks: Essential Bach – Newman University Church Full Review
Builds to an energetic finish
“…for Zelenka’s Capriccio No. 2 in G, a work in which, as Huggett describes, the horns ‘are busy’… this work certainly highlights the abilities of the two horn players, Jeroen Billiet and Gilbert Cami Farras, with some wonderful call-and-respond volleys between brass and strings. In many ways, though, the IBO saves the best to last, with a jump forward in time from Zelenka to close the concert with Johann Baptist Vanhal’s Sinfonia in C. Going from the earliest (c.1720) to the latest (1776) piece in one bound is an imaginative piece of programming….it is now as if we are hearing a small orchestra, with a renewed richness and depth of tone. The wind players’ long sustained lines in the central ‘cantabile’ movement reinforce and underpin a smooth singing tone from the strings, which builds to an energetic finish. The audience responds at the end with long, enthusiastic, and well-deserved applause.” Michael Lee, Golden Plec (September 2014) Oh Bohemia – Newman University Church
All the excitement of a high-wire act
“The highlight of the concert came not in any of the three vocal items, but in Claire Duff’s performance of Corelli’s Violin Sonata in G minor, Op 5 No 5. The playing was anything but plain, as she chose to use embellishments by the English violinist and composer Matthew Dubourg, who spent much of his life in Dublin, where he led the orchestra in the first performance of Handel’s Messiah in 1742. Duff’s daring handling of his intricate additions had all the excitement of a high-wire act.” Michael Dervan, The Irish Times (August 2014) Gems of the Baroque Deirdre Moynihan (soprano) with the Irish Baroque Orchestra Chamber Soloists Full Review
Irish Baroque Orchestra serves up delightful rarities at Rockport
“IBO’s strings and woodwinds responded with well-hewn phrases and fine control of the music’s shifting dynamics. The star of the evening was bassoonist Peter Whelan, who performed deftly in Vivaldi’s Concerto for Bassoon in C major. One of the composer’s thirty-seven concertos for the instrument, this show piece features the soloist in some dazzling melodic twists and turns. Whelan’s period-instrument bassoon sounded warm and inviting even in the most gnarly passagework…. the two overtures on the program, from John Pepusch’s The Beggar’s Opera and Nicolò Pasquali’s The Triumphs of Hibernia, showed the ensemble in its best light. The strings’ sparkling playing combined with the warm tone and spot-on intonation from the oboes made for exciting listening.” Aaron Keebaugh, Boston Classical Review (March 2014) Performance Center in Rockport, MA, USA
The stars of the performance, though, were the IBO
“This performance was noteworthy for the brightness and precision of the choral singing and the sensitive, delicately nuanced orchestral playing. The stars of the performance, though, were the IBO and the singers in Resurgam choir, whose brightness, clarity of diction, and response to the conductor’s directions were magnificent.” Declan Townsend, Irish Examiner (December 2013) Messiah, Triskel Christ Church, Cork Full Review
Rounding out the night’s music on a dramatic note
“The first of the evening’s three selection is Dittersdorf’s Concerto for Oboe d’Amore in A Major. That instrument’s warm and mellow sound is put to good use by soloist Andreas Helm – as the sound of the orchestra rises to fill the room, the sweet tone of the oboe is clear. Though the space is big, the reverb wide, the sound is never muddied. The church’s natural reverb plays a particular part in the second movement Adagio – when Helm takes a solo, as the orchestra drop back, the sounds of the oboe seem to swell and fade to fill the room. The final Presto movement is quick and lively – there’s a real sense of energy, of the musicians having a good time.
Another little heard instrument is featured in the second work of the night, the first of two from Georg Philipp Telemann. The Concerto for Flute, Viola d’Amore and Oboe d’Amore in E majorfeatures Huw Daniel on the viola d’amore. Its rich sound adds some depth to the piece, and the exchanges between the three soloists are a pleasure, even if the distinctive sound of the viola is occasionally overpowered. The fourth and final Vivace movement features some fine playing again from Helm, as lively as the name suggests.
The final selection of the evening is another from Telemann, the Overture Suite in A Minor. As it’s done all night, the harpsichord of Malcolm Proud holds the whole thing together, its’ stately sounds bringing an added richness to the already full sweep of the orchestra. Director and violinist Monica Huggett draws a balanced, dynamic sound from the ensemble, as they move through each movement – the final Minuet sees Helm attack one last solo, lively and quick, rounding out the night’s music on a dramatic note.” John Millar, Golden Plec, (January 2014) Concerti Bizzarri – Newman University Church, Dublin Full Review
The performance was worthy of the music
“Haydn obviously wrote his concerto for a player of outstanding ability, one who could effortlessly change from the lowest register to the very highest tones and do so while varying the dynamics from a whisper to full tone as well. Overcoming all of these challenges with apparent ease, Anneke Scott gave a brilliant performance on Natural Horn that revealed the beautiful tone that these ancient instruments could produce.
Similarly, Lisa Beznosiuk demonstrated what a gorgeously warm tone could come from the two- keyed wooden flute for which the great pedagogue Johann Quantz wrote his Concerto in G. I particularly loved the quiet intimacy of the soul-searching Arioso. The Sinfonia in D for two horns and strings by JS Bach’s pupil…. the Symphony in C by CPE Bach was exciting and utterly charming.
Mozart’s Symphony No 21 in A for two flutes, two horns and strings was a miracle of melodic excitement, invention, colour, and textural contrast. It summed up the qualities I admired in the other works on the programme and the performance was worthy of the music.” Declan Townsend, Irish Examiner (October 2013) Towards Enlightenment – Bandon, Cork Full Review
I shall never forget the astonishing playing
“I shall never forget the astonishing playing on natural horn by Anneke Scott in Haydn’s Concerto in D (HobVIId/3). She seemed to defy the laws of physics.
I was especially taken with the Sinfonia No 6 for horns and strings by Kirnberger, who nowadays is known mainly as one of the most important music theorists of the 18th century. This piece brims with a compact, muscular vigour that enables you to understand why he was so widely respected as a composer. Recapturing the life that led to such a reputation requires playing that convinces that this music deserves to live, and the technical ability and musical imagination to deliver. That is what the IBO did so well throughout this concert.” Martin Adams, The Irish Times (October 2013) Towards Enlightenment – Newman University Church, Dublin Full Review
Concerti Bizarri Reviews
‘Monica Huggett has allotted the solo opportunities across her brilliantly varied seven-concerto-strong Concerti Bizarri programme to the existing musicians of the Irish Baroque Orchestra, and the subsequent performances are unfailingly superlative.’
Gramophone (September 2016)
Concerto Choice: 5 Stars Performance / 5 Stars Sound
‘…virtuosic razzle-dazzle…deliciously alert, spirited, and free from affectation, its clarity is beautifully matched by the recording..’
BBC Music Magazine (August 2016)
’The music is always ear-catching and the captivating performances (and the bright recording) abound with verve and energy…’
Early Music Review (1 June 2016)
‘Monica Huggett makes the point that 18th-century soloists were often just virtuoso ensemble principals taking their turn front-of-stage. And that’s what happens on this fine album from the Irish Baroque Orchestra…the playing is lovely, with great poise from Huggett and standout charismatic bassoon playing from Peter Whelan…’
The Guardian (19 May 2016)