Orpheus Baroque Stockholm, the Italian virtuoso Lorenzo Coppola and three intriguing clarinets built by Agnès Guéroult according to 18th-century models, played a program of Telemann, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and Haydn that was alive with unfamiliar swaths of Baroque and early Classical color. Hosted by the roguish Coppola with rambling charm, an easy way with his authoritative knowledge, and a focus on the theatricality that all the music shared, what would have been merely a wonderful live-streamed concert with fabulous instruments and intoxicating music turned into a brilliant entertainment experience that could be a model for concerts online – and live.

Alf Hörberg, Lorenzo Coppola and Orpheus Baroque
© Konserthuset

The haunting sound of the chalumeau, the soft-toned predecessor of the clarinet which was enormously popular through the first half of the 18th century, allowed us to hear Telemann at his most profoundly personal in music that depends on instrumental color, contrasted to notions of his contemporary Bach as a composer whose music could be, and is, played on any instruments.The role the two chalumeaux play in the otherwise conventional concerto recalls Mozart's use of the basset clarinet in his Gran Partita to sing sultry-voiced melodies and darken the overall ensemble, which Orpheus and Coppola clearly laid out and the recording team vividly captured with an audiophile sense of space. The seductive innocence of the chalumeaux were put on full display in the slow movement where Coppola and Alf Hörberg sang, cooed, and spun out deliriously happy lines with the unevenness in breath and tone that was considered analogous to the human voice and was lost when the chalumeau was supplanted by the clarinet.

Lorenzo Coppola and his clarinetto d'amore
© Konserthuset

After Orpheus gave a dynamic, richly-played performance of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach's superbly edgy F major symphony, Coppola on a long clarinetto d'amore, with its little muting bowl at the end looking like the pipe Peter Sellers smoked in one of his Pink Panther movies, returned to join violist Christopher Öhman and cellist Johannes Rostamo in arrangements of four irresistible movements from Haydn's 123 baryton trios, irresistible enough  that two of the movements (113 and 35) found their way into Gregor Piatigorsky's pastiche called “Haydn's Divertimento in D”. The musicians took the two fast movements at a breakneck pace Piatigorsky would have admired before ending with a lovely Minuet followed, after appropriate comments, by three movements from one of the delicious eight Notturni Haydn wrote for the King of Naples, played by a mellifluous ensemble of flute, oboe, two violas, cello, double bass, two French horns and two C clarinets.

Orpheus Baroque
© Konserthuset

The concert ended with a thrilling Technicolor performance of Haydn's Symphony no. 53 in D major, aptly named L'Impériale, music so steeped in allusion and mastery that the opening Vivace even begins with a quotation from Haydn himself, of his first horn concerto written 15 years earlier. It is one of Haydn's symphonies that makes you wonder whether he could have written Beethoven's symphonies if he had lived long enough; at times he even seemed to have known before Ludwig did not only the full potential of what we now call Classical music but of the coming storms of Romanticism. In the conductorless performance, on which Coppola had worked in rehearsal as a sort of artistic consultant but took no part in at the concert, the orchestra took graciously subtle cues when needed from concertmaster Elin Gabrielsson, were sublime at characterizing episodes within movements, and were not above playing a rude French horn joke at the end of the Menuetto. As an encore Orpheus played the Symphony's alternate finale, an insanely repetitive Presto, with blazing horns and terrific timpani whacks at the end.

This performance was reviewed from the Konserthuset live video stream