Ensemble Guadagni Contribute Warm, Flexible Sound to Davies Recital

20/08/2015

eif-2015-115

 Edinburgh International Festival 2015 (13) –Blow and Purcell: Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Ensemble Guadagni, Queen’s Hall, 19.08.2015 (SRT)

Odes and Stage Music by John Blow and Henry Purcell

Iestyn Davies may have been the headliner for this concert, but the warm, flexible sound of Ensemble Guadagni was, if anything, even more important in making this concert successful. Consisting of two recorders, two violins, viola, viol, theorbo and harpsichord, they seem to be an occasional ensemble, as all the performers are given separate biographies in the programme, rather than one write-up for the band. (They also partnered Davies for his 2010 Wigmore Hall recital disc.) If so, then they’re an assembly of experts, whose knowledge and understanding of the late 17th century soundscape is pretty fantastic.

I loved not only their blend, but also their innate feel for the rhythm and mood of the music they were playing. Their most extended item was the suite from Blow’s Venus and Adonis, but the flecks of colour and shafts of light they repeatedly shot through the whole programme was a joy to behold, the pair of recorders tootling their way beautifully around Purcell’s Strike the viol and coming together to provide a beautiful blanket of sound in Fairest Isle. Purcell’s Fantazia provided their pièce-de-résistance, the three upper strings making a dazzling sound against the rock solid ground bass on the three continuo instruments. Presided over by the watchful genius of Richard Egarr on harpsichord, Davies could have wanted no finer partners.

The man himself made a predictably beautiful sound: his countertenor is probably the most in-demand in the world at the minute. He was poignant and melancholy in famous Purcell numbers like O Solitude or the famous Evening Hymn, but he wasn’t above having some fun with the song of the Cold Genius in King Arthur, displaying phenomenal technique and breath control in the process. My only regret is that he didn’t programme more things that showed off the phenomenal gleam to his upper register, surely his finest asset, which didn’t get much of an airing. Still, with such flawless intonation and beautiful tone, there was no reason to complain.

The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and is available to listen again here.

Simon Thompson

The 2015 Edinburgh International Festival runs until Monday 31st August at venues across the city. For full details go to www.eif.co.uk

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Garsington Opera’s Extended 2017 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2017-18 Barbican Classical Music Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Coming Soon in February: The Fifth Ealing Music & Film Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Siegfried comes to Saffron Walden __________________________________
  • NEW! Symphonic Soundscapes: Cadogan Hall and RPO Announce Exclusive Collaboration with Digital App Octava __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2017 Aldeburgh Festival is from 9 to 25 June __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet presents Mary Skeaping’s Giselle at the London Coliseum from 11 – 22 January 2017 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Grange Festival’s First Season in June and July 2017 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Buenos Aires 2017 With a Focus On Co-productions __________________________________
  • NEW! Preview of the 2017 Chipping Campden Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Investec Opera Holland Park’s Casts for the 2017 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! THE SOPRANO ELISABETH MEISTER: FIGHTING BACK FROM WHAT LIFE THROWS AT YOU AND INSPIRING OTHERS __________________________________
  • NEW! REVIEWERS OF SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL PICK THEIR BEST OF 2016 __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Göran Forsling’s Opera Update from Helsinki and Stockholm __________________________________
  • NEW! Budapest’s Chamber Music Festival Provides a Glimpse of Not Only an Existential But Also a Political Utopia __________________________________
  • NEW! The Mastersingers Celebrate Wagner Past and Present with the Rehearsal Orchestra __________________________________
  • NEW! MARTYN BRABBINS IS ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA’S NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR __________________________________
  • NEW! MONICA HUGGETT IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! Movers Makers Musicians Mingle Part Two __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H