Opera + Classical Music Reviews

Consortium5 @ Consortium5

A concert of esoteric music from around the fifteenth century, set in a dimly lit church and all of it performed on recorders. Absolute heaven.

The composers listed in the programme featured such wilfully obscure names as Clemens Thieme, Isaac Posch, William Lawes, Adrian Wilaert and Jrgen Presten (to name but a few). Even the most famous medieval and baroque composer was conspicuously absent (Anon), but happily good old Telemann was there to offer something reassuringly familiar like a pair of slippers still at your parents house from last Christmas.

Elegantly modest performers, Consortium5 can produce a haunting, ravishing sound as well as being able to lighten the mood with jaunty, impish flair. The performances were consistently beautiful and intricate, with an instinctive knack for perfect phrasing and texture. Although the instruments played by the group were all part of the recorder family, there was variety in the ranges of instruments, (from the common school-sized recorder up to what looks like a seven-foot tall double-bass recorder for the growly, low stuff) and music was chosen for varying numbers of players, from solo to quintet.

As well as being a feast of counterpoint, the concert was also something of an education, with each of he five performers taking turns to introduce the following suite or morsel. There was information about the practice of motto music (the audio equivalent of a family crest, specially commissioned by rich families of the time) as well as nuggets of interest about modern-day performance practice on ancient instruments. The acoustic in St Georges Church was ripe and seemed to warm and nurture the groups rich sound.

Deliciously awkward harmonic turns and rhythmic complexity are common features of medieval music with a piquancy often found in contemporary classical music so it shouldnt come as a surprise that Consortium5 also specialise in far more recent, experimental repertoire. Something to look forward to.

To wrap up the concert was a quartet of carols and brave members of the audience were invited to join in. Evidently a knowledgeable bunch; the audience sang in perfectly controlled harmony, bringing the evening to a rousing climax. The storm of applause was an appropriate end to such a glorious Christmas evening.

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