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Venetian Baroque music from The Derbyshire Singers,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


It's not every day you see a monk, wearing the full habit of his order, playing organ continuo at a public concert, but Brother Roger Dominic literally held centre-stage, lending an appropriately ecclesiastical touch to this evening of music mainly from the glory days of early baroque Venice [The Derbyshire Singers, Derby Cathedral, UK, 1 April 2006].

Monteverdi and Giovanni Gabrieli were, of course, well represented, with conductor Lynne Clarke encouraging the choir to produce some richly sonorous and, where appropriate, incisively rhythmic singing. Occasionally initial attacks were a bit hesitant.

The singers were joined by leading early music ensemble His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts. For their instrumental contributions they did not go down the expected route of more Gabrieli. Instead they gave superbly articulated performances of music by some of the leading Italian instrumental composers of the next generation, Buonamente, Marini and Rossi. Organist Julian Perkins also contributed some nimble-fingered Frescobaldi.

Of the vocal soloists, bass Michael Bundy was expressive in two operatic numbers by Cavalli. Tenor Nicholas Watts, standing in at short notice, gave lively performances of three of Monteverdi's Scherzi Musicali. Counter-tenor Daniel Wellings took a while to settle into his Grandi/Monteverdi group but there is a potentially outstanding vocal personality here. The evening's most satisfying solo singing came from soprano Ruth Holton, whose account of Monteverdi's Pianto della Madonna (a sacred adaptation of his well-known Lamento d'Arianna) was spell-binding.

All the evening's performers came together for Gabrieli's In Ecclesiis which built to a splendidly powerful climax. My one serious grumble is that, with no microphones provided, the spoken introductions were hard to hear.

Copyright © 6 April 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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