BREMF – In Transit to the Baroque – In Echo

Gawain Glenton is a musical magician well known to the audience of the Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF). His wand is the cornetto, a curved wooden tube that he plays like a trumpet with the fluid agility of a recorder player, and he makes it seem so easy! Flourishes, diminutions, all kinds of stimulating decorations that performers of the Baroque era delighted in, flow from his charmed instrument.

We have heard him in the chamber acoustics of The Friends’ Meeting House, and in the context of Baroque opera and oratorio but the joy of this recital was the variety of sounds and that he shared the spotlight with the four other players.

Oliver Webber’s violin is as swift and elegant as the cornetto and blended so well that sometimes at the back of St Bartholomew’s vast space it was difficult to tell their sounds apart. He has led ensembles and opera bands for BREMF before but this evening, with the help of a scrap of leather and some careful scordatura, he tripled his rôle by playing three strings at once!

Emily White’s sackbut, that dainty, early version of the trombone, also played fast passages but was best expressed in some exquisite slow pieces that she somehow got to hang in the air.

For much of the concert Richard Boothby did what viol players always do and gave us the bass line, firm and clear, but he too also let rip! In this case, the acoustic rather swallowed up many of the notes but the effect was stunning.

Similarly, Silas Wollston accompanied the others steadily on his organ, a most impressive instrument with its tower of wooden bass pipes. However, this too had its solo moments of amazing virtuosity and harmonic complexity. When virtuosos of this calibre play together the effect is magnificent.

St Bartholomew’s Church,
24 June 2022
Rating: ★★★★½
Andrew Connal

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