Review Italian Virtuosi, 21 March 2003

by Sharona on April 11, 2003

“The instruments came into their own in such pieces as the cheeky Chi Bussa (who’s knocking?) where Jacob Heringman on the lute and Sharona Joshua on the harpsichord had a witty exchange of knocks and taps…”

Concerto Cristofori – Italian Virtuosi
Purcell Room Friday 21 March

Recorder and viol devotees, lured by the magical names of Pamela Thorby and Susanna Pell, and hoping for incandescent displays of virtuosity, were only disappointed in that their luminaries were allotted so little time in the spotlight. The same could be said of Jacob Heringman’s compelling intricacies on the lute. Centre stage was, however, beautifully occupied by Faye Newton’s limpid soprano. Her diction was clear enough to understand the original Italian text, and the many virtuosi flourishes, runs and trills, such as in Luzzasco Luzzaschi’s poignant O Primavera were both flawless and wonderfully moving. By contrast, in the popular Ostinato vo’ seguire Faye’s lovely soprano was combined with an exciting filigree of rapid recorder variations.

This varied feast of madrigals, dances, rustic items, and pieces in the new stille recitativo, with its emphasis on portraying strong emotions, gave a good idea of the melting pot of ideas and styles prevailing in 16th century Italy and Venice. The instruments came into their own in such pieces as the cheeky Chi Bussa (who’s knocking?) where Jacob Heringman on the lute and Sharona Joshua on the harpsichord had a witty exchange of knocks and taps, contrasting more obviously virtuosic pieces such as the Divisions for viol on Ancor che col partire by Richardo Rogniono, played with great panache by Susanna Pell, and Pamela Thorby’s powerful Divisions on Un gay bergier by Crequillon.

For those with perfect pitch the harpsichord (a copy of the Royal college of Music’s Trasuntino harpsichord, commissioned by Sharona Joshua) afforded a rare opportunity to hear early music performed in such unexpected keys as E, A and B major. With such an unusually low pitch (a=348) the other instruments also adopted unusual keys and tunings, which contributed overall to a pleasing sense of brilliance and mellowness.

Sharona Joshua will be giving a solo recital of Renaissance music on the copy of the Trasuntino harpsichord on Sunday June 29, at 7pm at the Streatham synagogue, 45 Leigham Court Road, SW16.

The Classical Source – Helen France

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