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Amsterdam group's brilliant baroque at Royal Opera House

Times of Oman - Sarah Macdonald

In honour of the Royal Opera House Muscat's newest instrument, a beautiful double harpsichord, the audience was treated to a concert by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, conducted by harpsichorist Ton Koopman.
For many, this was an introduction to baroque, the elaborate, ornamental music that was the norm in the 17th and early 18th centuries, and what a great introduction it was! Ton Koopman is one of the leading baroque musicians and conductors, and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, which he founded in 1979, is superb. 
They played music German composer Georg Philipp Telemann's Tafelmusik III and Die Donnerode, for which they were joined by a choir and five solo vocalists. The Tafelmusic (tablemusic) was lovely, as it highlighted many different instruments of the small ensemble, heavily composed of string and woodwind instruments. The instruments themselves are impressive because many are actually from the baroque era, and have a special richness and warmth. The music also provided Koopman the opportunity to play the new harpsichord, the handcrafted keyboard instrument whose strings are plucked when the keys are pressed.

Absolutely delightful
Koopman was absolutely delightful, both playing and standing at the harpsichord to conduct. He had a bright smile much of the time, and an exuberant energy that was simply enfectious. Die Donnerode (Thunder Ode) is an oratorio-composition for orchestra, choir and soloists - that Telemann wrote about a 1755 eartquake in Portugal.
The combination of the orchestra and voices was stunning. Though there were no subtitles for the German lyrics, it really didn't matter, as the music itself was enough. The soloists included a soprano, a countertenor, a tenor, a basbaritone and baritone. The soprano, Lenneke Ruiten, was especially memorable, as het voice isn't just beautiful; it also has an unforgettable emotional quality capable of sending shivers down ones spines. The evening of baroque music was a treat, and no doubt many who where there will be anticipating another concert like this in upcoming seasons at the ROHM.