S&H Concert Review

THE REAL MILLENNIUM CONCERT Wigmore Hall 31 December 2000

For the Wigmore Hall, which is currently on a high, it must have been gratifying that there was queuing all day for returns before this long sold-out afternoon concert of baroque music, which clearly appealed as an oasis of cultural respite in the strenuous holiday season.

Emma Kirkby is a great favourite, and it is astonishing to recall that several decades ago her pure, vibrato-less soprano was thought by some as much an oddity as had been the response to the re-emergence of the counter-tenor voice, to which people were gradually getting used to accepting as normal. She was singing as well as ever; the voice is small, but the 10 musicians of Florilegium gave exactly the right support, and the Wigmore Hall acoustic is ideal for this music. Emma Kirkby all our cares beguiled in the best loved of Purcell songs, and the group took a soothing view of pieces from Purcell's Fairy Queen to ready us for the New Year's Eve.

Pergolesi's Salve Regina was a substantial vocal cantata, in the same serious vein as his Stabat Mater ; it was interesting to read that after his early death at 26 unscrupulous publishers responded to the demand for his music by attributing to him works of other composers - (c.f. the Wassenaer saga ). A Corelli trio sonata da Chiesa was ravishing with organ, cello and theorbo, and Ashley Solomon, one of the group's founders ten years ago, was a marvellous foil to the soprano characterising a nightingale in Handel's Sweet bird and he was especially captivating in Vivaldi's La Notte flute concerto. Balance was perfection and there was, for once, no sense of the baroque flute being rather too quiet for concert exposure.

Florilegium has an attractive new website and their many CDs include one of Vivaldi concerti for various instruments, Channel Classics CCS 8495.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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