It’s early! Brighton Baroque on a roll

IMG_0004.JPG

Ars Eloquentiae

Latest Music Bar

November 1

If you bumped into the five fresh faced members of Ars Eloquentiae cooling their heels at a train station you might guess that they are musicians. Pressed to specify what kind of music they perform, you’d probably plump for something along the lines of the virtuoso sturm und drang of Radiohead.

In a sense, you wouldn’t be that wide of the mark. The six-piece ensemble may have swapped guitars and drums for recorder, cello, violins and harpsichord , but their performances of 18th century pieces by Marais, Rameau, Vivaldi and others, posses a swagger and dynamism not a million miles away from Thom Yorke’s boys.

At the Latest Music Bar in Manchester Street, Brighton, on Saturday morning, they presented a ‘Sentimental Journey’, punctuating the musical performances with quotations from Laurence Sterne’s novel. Laszlo Rozsa on the recorder tackled the tricky Baroque licks with aplomb while violinists James Toll and Guy Botton displayed an unbuttoned flair for period pieces that can feel stale from more self-effacing performers. Gavin Kelly on cello and Chad Kelly on harpsichord laid a secure floor from which their more florid partners could tackle the dizzy changes in keys and temp that characterise the enduring appeal of Early Music.

Brighton Early Music Festival: Paris – Convent Divas, St Paul’s Church, West Street, Brighton,

Sunday

November 2

The fact that it was standing room only at St Paul’s Church is testament to the appeal of 17th century church music.

The wind was howling down a sodden West Street, but inside the church an atmosphere of ethereal peace was conjured by Musica Secreta, Celestial Sirens, and the Brighton Festival Youth Choir under the direction of Esther Jones and Deborah Roberts.

Compositions for chromatic a cappella performances grew out of the taste for high voices in 16th century Italy. Composers such as Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Jean Baptistse Lully, and Marin Marais gained fame in the world of small scale sacred vocal music.

For this evening’s performance, the directors chose the Propers for St Margaret. Propers are liturgical texts that vary for service to service. The singing mostly featured solo voices with the choir responding to the sopranos’ lead.

The performance was all the more powerful for an absence of vocal pyrotechnics with Katharine Hawnt, Elizabeth Dobbin and Deborah Rogers delivering plain but enchanting melodies, subtly augmented by Claire Williams at the organ.

IMG_0005-0.JPG

Brighton Early Music Festival: Leipzig: Bach’s secret addiction – Bach and Telemann meet at Cafe Zimmerman, The Old Market, Upper Market Street, Hove
Sunday,
November 2

It was George Santayana who said that those who fail to remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

The 19th century philosopher would no doubt take pleasure in the fact the city elders of 18th century Leipzig were unnerved by the habits of the youth who were spending far too much time sitting around in coffee houses talking about changing the world – after the next invigorating cuppa.

The trend was sufficiently widespread for Bach to briefly abandon the religiose themes of his cantatas in favour of a mild satire revolving around a father who despairs of his daughter giving up the evil caffeine in order to make a decent marriage.

The Little Baroque Company commissioned a new translation of the work by Carla Blackwood to drive home the modern parallels: “It’s always Starbucks! Espresso! Latte! Aargh! When will you hear my phrase/and give up this coffee craze!”

The audience were treated to coffee and cakes while they listened and the brew was given added piquancy with the addition of Handel’s Overture to Ariodante and Telemann’s Burlesque de Quixotte.

It was light frothy fare, which sent the audience back into the autumnal squalls feeling slightly perkier than when they arrived.