York Early Music Centre resounds with trumpets for Christmas.
The National Centre for Early Music is one of the great attractions of York for all those who love the music of Bach, Monteverdi and other composers of the era, and the setting of the concerts in the beautiful St Margaret’s Church makes every performance a special event. Add to that the convivial atmosphere, the mulled wine and mince pies before the proceedings begin, and the presence just a few metres away of some of York’s most individual restaurants, and it’s no surprise that there are only a few tickets left for the forthcoming concerts in their Christmas Festival.
Inspiring Bach is part of Spiritato’s ongoing exploration of the techniques and sounds of music of the mid 17th century, for which they are joined by The Marian Consort. The natural trumpets are the stars, with no finger holes or valves, and the string players use equal tension, which all make for challenges not only for the instrumentalists but for the singers. Fortunately both were more than equal to them.
“…it’s no surprise that there are only a few tickets left for the forthcoming concerts”
Pachelbel’s Gott sei uns gnädig began the evening in fine style, and was followed by Johann Christoph Bach’s Ach dass ich Wassers genug hätte, the poignant solo part mellifluously sung by Rory McCleery. Sebastian Knüpfer’s Die Turteltaube lässt sich hören, entertainingly introduced by William Russell, showed us the capabilities of the instruments to suggest both the gentlest and the most flamboyant of sounds.
J.S. Bach’s Christ Lag in Todesbanden was the evening’s centrepiece, given a stirring performance in which the consort sang thrillingly. J.C. Bach’s Es erhub sich ein Streit vividly describes a war in the heavens, the trumpets sounding with what was described as ‘both the martial and the divine’. Which is as apt a description of this concert as you can get.
• See ncem.co.uk for details of the remaining concerts in the York Early Music Christmas Festival.