Thursday, September 22, 2005


Erica Jeal's Guardian review of the recent South Bank Early Music Festival makes me wish I had been able to be there, even if I'm not sure that she's grasped just how free improvisation can be. Ornette Coleman, take a bow. Anyway, she writes: "The theme of the weekend was improvisations, and, whether in 21st-century jazz or a 17th-century chaconne, those demand a predictable chord sequence. So it was no surprise that Sunday's concert by Berlin's outstanding Akademie für Alte Musik contained a few more repetitions of La Folia, the baroque era's answer to the 12-bar blues, than strictly necessary. But the group radiated warmth in Vivaldi and Geminiani as well as some more unusual gems, including Georg Muffat's Sonata no 5. Two high points involved only a few players: a Sinfonia by Corbetta for theorbo, guitar and virtuoso cello, and Biber's Passacaglia in G for solo violin, with which Midori Seiler held the audience rapt."

"The final concert teamed the viols and psalterion of L'Arpeggiata with the Italian jazz clarinettist Gianluigi Trovesi and folk singer Lucilla Galeazzi for an off-the-wall programme of songs - including a few foot-tappers by Galeazzi herself - and dance improvisations that showed how similar these three traditions actually are. There were moments when the members of L'Arpeggiata seemed jazz musicians manqués, keener to let their hair down than the slightly restrained Trovesi. In their version of Pozzi's Cantata Sopra il Passacaglio, it was Trovesi who supported flights of fancy from the countertenor Philippe Jaroussky rather than the other way round. Jaroussky, a singer to watch, hammed up the same cantata gamely for the self-consciously jazzy version that brought the weekend to a celebratory close." [See also: Early Music Network]

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