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The final piece of the night brings Sophia Brumfitt to the fore. We have already heard her briefly in the first half, and we know she can sing. But Ariana, by Alessandro Scarlatti gives her full rein. It is a complete performance, dramatic but not histrionic, with a range of vocal colouration some, much better known singers, would do well to emulate. And it is a challenging way to end a concert, demanding considerable concentration from the audience. Their response is unequivocal and the encore, far from feeling pre-arranged, almost has to be wrung out of the group.

Back in the kitchen, now over wine, the conversation is relaxed. Not that this precludes the inevitable post-mortems. One area of concern is the room itself, because they may well perform there again. The acoustic is very dry. It's hard for the performers to hear themselves and each other in the way the audience did. How did it sound from out front? And should they, despite the fireplace, perform at a right-angle to it next time, down the length of the room? And what about the final Scarlatti piece? Should it come before La Folia? Food is brought to the table and Joakim confesses to being 'peckish', which sets everyone laughing because Joakim is always peckish. And, after a while, I suddenly realise that it is nearly midnight and I must leave.

As I drive away, it occurs to me that I still haven't discovered the reason for the group's quirky name. I'll check later. The simple fact is that it is both positive and memorable, and that pretty much sums up this ensemble. May they continue to rise, and hopefully to withstand the pressures of individual careers long enough that more people hear them. They are building an audience and they certainly deserve a more than transitory success.

Copyright © 8 November 2003 Rex Harley, Cardiff UK


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