Ivo Posti and Ensemble Floridante at Estonia Concert Hall on December 18, 2018.

There is no snow yet, and, as we know, the cheesy Christmas songs playing again and again at the shopping malls are not evoking any Christmas feeling. The spirit that is tired of the end-of-the-year struggles would need something that helps to stop time for Christmas peace to come into the heart. Maybe baroque music – Vivaldi and Handel – could help?

Vivaldi and Handel are from the same era, but their fates were different like night and day. Venetian Vivaldi died in poverty in Vienna, while Handel from Northern Germany gained fame and wealth in the British high society. The concert presented the works of Handel and Vivaldi in a manner appropriate to the time and place in which it was composed (historically informed performance): period instruments were used by Meelis Orgse, Mari Targo (violin), Johanna Vahermägi (viola), Tõnu Jõesaar (cello), Mati Lukk (double bass), Saale Fischer (harpsichord and organ) and Kristo Käo (baroque guitar, theorbo). This time, only Vivaldi’s instrumental works (simfonias and string concerts) were performed, while Handel’s most famous arias were performed by the countertenor Ivo Posti.

Vivaldi’s melodic and playful string pieces alternated with Handel’s affect-filled arias. The ensemble’s style is accurate and professional, beautifully toned music is colourful and enjoyable. Floridante was also visually attractive.

Countertenor is a rare male voice, the scope of which remains in the registry of alto and soprano. The internationally renowned Ivo Posti’s natural talent is nicely polished, he delivers high notes elegantly and with ease. The performance which is velvety-soft, while outlining each note accurately at the same time, caresses the ear and tickles the receptors pleasantly. However, Ivo Posti’s charm and great acting skills alone would have been fascinating; his colourful-emotional and extremely expressive performance remained concise, technically accurate and focused. Harmony with the ensemble was great.

A bit over an hour long concert ended surprisingly fast. At the end, I was thinking that it would have been interesting to hear some Vivaldi’s vocal works for comparison. Was Handel the choice of the ensemble or the singer is unknown to me.

In any case, the Christmas feeling came powerfully and baroquely. Joy and satisfaction could also be spotted from the faces of those leaving the hall. There is no way to see and hear this kind of combination of musicians every day. The concert series “Matinee” will continue at the Estonia Concert Hall also in the year 2019, and I hope to hear Floridante and Ivo Posti again soon.