Music Reviews : Hanover Band Plays at El Camino College

When we last heard the Hanover Band--which is neither Hanoverian nor a band in the usual sense--four years ago, we heard stylish, energetic and (we trust) historically authentic readings of music by Beethoven and his contemporaries, marred only by an occasional instance of questionable intonation or asynchrony.

The 9-year-old British ensemble derived its name from the "bands" (to use the usual 18th-Century designation) after which it was modeled: the Viennese Akademie orchestras of the Hanoverian period. Using original or replicated instruments--natural horns and trumpets, woodwinds with simple key mechanisms and gut-strung violins--its players must contend with the difficulties inherent in using what may seem to us as primitive instruments.

The players may have to work harder, but there's a big payoff. Hanover Band produces a refreshingly different sound--rich in color and full of striking contrasts. And this time around--Saturday evening at El Camino College--the liabilities proved hardly noticeable.

Conductor Roy Goodman, whose frenzied gestures gave him a thorough aerobic workout, presided over well-proportioned, energized readings of Beethoven's Seventh and Mendelssohn's "Italian" symphonies. Heretofore undiscovered details emerged with striking clarity. His account of the "Salterello" from the Mendelssohn probably broke the local speed record, but his orchestra delivered the presto movement, like the others, with spectacular precision.

Between the symphonies, tenor Martyn Hill brought exquisite phrasing, telling sensitivity and extraordinary control to Mozart's recitative and aria, "Misero, o sogno, o son desto?" and a pair of Donizetti arias. Hill produced a pure, limpid sound, exhibited a wide dynamic spectrum and produced a rainbow of vocal timbres. Goodman and The Band accompanied sympathetically.

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