Queen Elizabeth I brought together the finest talent
in the land and created collections of consort, lute and keyboard music
that are still renowned today. Charivari agréable have
arranged for their core trio music that depicts the life of the queen:
"music from the court, an exhilarating depiction of a hunt, celebrations
from the queen’s coronation and the moving laments on her death" (Sayce).
If - depending upon your age - your pulse quickens at the mention of
the legendary Cortot/Thibaud/Casals, the Beaux Arts Trio or, say, the
Trio Prague or Gould
Piano Trio of today, allow yourself to consider, in a fully comparable
bracket of excellence, Oxford's multinational Heinrich/Ng/Sayce Trio.
You will not be thinking upon those lines if you rely
upon Radio 3, as Colin
Booth complains in a well argued article in ‘Early
Music Review’ about institutional bias which downgrades early music
expertise. Yet readers of S&H will know that I have regularly
extolled the work of
Charivari agréable, a musical jewel in Oxford's crown.
Often these players are joined by others to form larger ensembles; here
they play solo, duo and trio changes on viols (treble, tenor and bass),
virginals, harpsichord, chamber organ and seven-course lute. This ensures
textural variety in mainly shortish pieces by ten composers plus the
ubiquitous anon (the longest is Hume's Lamentations at
seven mins) and they cover the whole gamut of emotions. I did need to
alter the volume once between tracks, and there is a minor discrepancy
between track numbers on my review copy (correct in the insert). All
three are formidable academics as well as being sensitive multi-instrumental
virtuosi, and presentation is comprehensive as usual with this series,
including details of all the instruments (modern copies) and with an
interesting essay by Linda Sayce about the death of Queen Elizabeth
I and the transition from Tudor to Jacobean epochs.
Peter Grahame Woolf