- November 6, 2018
What an excellent idea it is to have a showcase of some of the best young musicians in the Early Music field, even if the resulting programme may have been long and slightly disjointed, although it must be said that each group’s set was thoughtfully put together.
We heard five very promising groups with Voice, a trio of female singers performing entirely unaccompanied, making their mark at the start by using the space of St Paul’s Church effectively in music of the 12th century with a later anonymous setting of ‘I sing of a maiden’ being given a particularly sensitive performance.
The Comalli Consort, a soprano with violin, lute and viola da gamba, followed with a programme based around the plainsong ‘Da pacem’ chant. Their lively central work by Pedro de Escobar was a much needed contrast to the slowish pace of the rest in which they occasionally sounded somewhat unsettled. Notable about their programme was the inclusion of a work by 20th century composer, Arvo Part, in which the soprano stood out for her control of the vocal line.
Next on was the group Dramma per musica, who immediately felt more professional with a fine tenor accompanied by theorbo and viola da gamba and differed from the others in that it was more a solo vehicle for the voice than an ensemble. Nevertheless these were excellent performances of songs from the 17th century, even if the encouragement of applause between the songs upset the continuity.
Figo, comprising two violins, cello and theorbo, based their programme around the composer Muffat emphasising the European influences in his music, which fitted neatly with the European theme of this year’s festival. In music also by Lully and Corelli their imaginative expressive touches and vivid contrasts worked well in spite of occasional sour intonation in the violins.
The final group, Pocket Sinfonia, took us into the classical period with Mozart’s Haffner symphony in the chamber version for flute, violin, cello and fortepiano by Hummel, who had studied with Mozart. This was quite a tour-de-force, especially for the fortepiano, and their light, clear textures and effective contrasts, together with a hair-raising tempo in the final movement, gave us a new insight into this familiar work, which sent us out into West Street with a spring in our step.
St Paul’s Church, 3 November 2018
John Q. March