Photo: Nick Rutter

Instruments of Time & Truth/Bojan Čičić


Instruments of Time & Truth’s concert was something heavenly. Performed in Oxford’s magnificent Sheldonian Theatre, the musicians of IT&T played two glorious pieces by Beethoven; the Violin Concerto with soloist Bojan Čičić, and Symphony no. 3.

IT&T is an early music ensemble made up of around 30 musicians, playing on period or replica instruments.  It aims to recreate the type of sound that original audiences of a piece may have experienced.

Soloist and Oxfordshire resident, Bojan Čičić, conjured the spirit of Beethoven with his respectful and virtuoso performance.  With an extraordinarily fluid and relaxed playing technique, Čičić seemed to summon the music from his instrument.  There was no eccentric stylistic flourishes or debatable interpretations, just clean and divine playing of the music as it was written.  He played with obvious joy and indeed, it was rather wonderful to watch the evident enjoyment of the musicians themselves as they poured their love of their instruments and of the music into their performances.  The gentle start to the first movement was like balm to a weary soul, allowing the audience to shed the burdens of the week and become peaceful. Čičić’s entrance to the piece with the split octaves was like some divine angel.

To me, the most beautiful moment of the performance was the beginning of the second movement.  The string introduction was warm, mellow and intimate; with the horns providing the perfect, gentle, velvet stage for the violin’s lyrical entrance.  The final movement was full of energy and rapture.

Beethoven’s Symphony no. 3, known as the Eroica symphony, allowed the ensemble to come forward in all its glory, performing the piece with integrity and precision.  Having never heard this piece performed by an early music ensemble before, it was a real privilege to be able to clearly and cleanly hear each instrument’s contribution to the whole in a way that I have never been able to do in a performance by a modern symphony orchestra. This is perhaps due to the size of the ensemble as compared with a modern symphony orchestra, but mostly it was due to the humility of the musicians’ performances, whose clear commitment was to the music. So, I was able to appreciate the cello part, the valiant double basses and the wind section in a new way.  The brass instruments were just great fun to hear.  Every time the horns and trumpets played, it felt like a celebration.  By the time the final chords of the final movement rang out across the hall, the audience felt a real sense of elation.

What a wonderful way to start the weekend!

If you have never been to a performance by an early music ensemble before, I urge you to go to one of IT&T’s performances.  While early music ensembles can sometimes have the reputation of being culturally exclusive and intimidating, this is not the case with IT&T.  All the musicians care about is the music, so if you want to hear beautiful music, then that is all the qualification you need.  Even if you’ve never been to a classical music concert before, buy a ticket to one of IT&T’s performances, sit back and let the music create heroic pictures in your mind.

Feature photo credit: Nick Rutter