For two hours, Masaaki Suzuki and his Juilliard415 ensemble transported us from Edwardian town hall to Baroque wonderland.

A Bach sinfonia set the scene, in an effortless weave of strings, double-reeds and harpsichord, followed by a glorious Handel motet, Silete venti, delivered by Rebecca Farley as if she had been born to do so.

The young soprano wasn't fazed by this 25-minute challenge, voicing rapturous praise and love for Jesus in expressive recitative, elegant arias and a final gigue of an Alleluia.

Jonathan Slade, on wooden flute, was soloist in Bach's B minor Suite.


Suzuki maintained an aptly rococo buoyancy in the orchestral ranks and, although town hall acoustics meant that Slade subtly shadowed the violins for much of the time, he did burst forth, brilliantly, in the Polonaise and final Badinerie.

Handel's Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No. 6, revealed the broader sweep of this composer's art, heightened by violinist Alana Youssefian's wildfire improvisations, so startling that one induced a smile of admiration from a fellow soloist.

Our heavenly sojourn in this eighteen-century haven was extended by a spirited Bach encore, with a gentle, dancing trio for oboes and bassoons, firming my resolve to catch this group's Wellington programme when RNZ Concert broadcasts it on Tuesday evening.

What: Masaaki Suzuki & Juilliard415
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Friday