Monday, 24 April 2023



Red Dot Baroque

The Arts House Blue Room

Sunday (23 April 2023)


As Singapore’s premiere early music and period instrument group, Red Dot Baroque continues to surprise and delight by its dedication to the performance of rarely-heard baroque music. Even in the absence of its founder and leader, violinist Alan Choo, the ensemble can be relied to put on a smashing good show. This evening’s 70-minute-long concert was built around the theme of De Profundis (Psalm 130), which translated to “out of the depths” of one’s heart, an expression of personal contrition and unworthiness in the presence of the Divine being.


As one might expect, much of the music was of a solemn nature, mostly cast in minor keys, but not all of it was sad or forlorn. Such is the variety of baroque music that serious subjects could still be made to sound interesting and alive. Performing this evening were Brenda Koh and Placida Ho on violins, Zoi (Tzu-Jou) Yeh on cello, Leslie Tan on viola da gamba, Cheryl Lim on traverso flute and recorder, supported by Gerald Lim on harpsichord.


The programme was a very enjoyable one, despite the sobriety of the subjects. When performances are so committed and passionate, the listener gets pulled in and become deeply involved with the proceedings. Works by Dario Castello, Francesco Mancini, Antonio Caldara, Johann Janitsch and Georg Telemann do not often get heard in these parts, and RDB's championing of these baroque composers certainly helped them become better known.

Completing the group was bass-baritone John Lee, who sang in three works by Alessandro Scarlatti (Domenico’s father), Nicolas Bruhns (a resident of Husum) and J.S.Bach himself. He has a deeply sonorous voice, totally suited for this music, and even if one did not understand Italian, Latin or German, one could still feel the gravitas.


Below are photos taken from the front row, and one does not get closer to the music than this!

Dario Castello's Sonata Quarta
opened the show.

John Lee really knows how to bring out the
consonances of A.Scarlatti's Imagini d'orrore
(Horror Images)

Gerald Lim also performed on 
an electronic organ in some works.

Cheryl Lim's transverse flute
provided some of the concert's most soothing sounds.

Leslie Tan has switched from modern cello
to the viola da gamba, but he always
sounds convincing.

Placida Ho cuts an elegant pose
on the baroque violin.

Husum resident Bruhns' De Profundis Clamavi
was an impassioned cry for help, a work of true pathos,
its spirit captured perfectly by John Lee.

Leslie's gamba and Gerald's harpsichord,
you can't get more authentic than this!

The concert closed with Vivaldi's La Folia,
a set of variations familiar because of it
appearing in works by Corelli, Liszt and Rachmaninov.

Take a bow, Red Dot Baroque!

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