Concert Review

A Yuletide Tale
The Musicke Companye
Lion Ballroom, Leominster
22 December 2013

An Espressivo promotion

Philippa Hyde (soprano)
Tim Carleston (counter-tenor)
Daisy Vatalaro (baroque cello)
Helen Rogers (harpsichord and chamber organ)

Elevating us - without resistance - into a long-gone age, this Sunday afternoon musical treat was all that one could have wished for - a perfect opportunity to avoid, and forget, the hectic run-arounds of our 21st Century pre-Christmas obligations and sit back and indulge our imaginative senses!

The historic scene was set and the lovely ‘musicke’ began. Laced with florid ‘mots contemporains’, the songs and carols, duets and instrumental pieces were superbly performed by this celebrated ‘Companye’ - whose well-deserved reputation promised much and delivered more. Supported by excellent playing of baroque cello and keyboards, Philippa’s beautiful, even tone (delivered with such natural and generous directness) and Tim’s mellow counter-tenor warmth, balanced and blended without self-indulgence so that the sound simply seeped, delightfully, into the mind. Though energetic, nothing was driven by un-due force ... everything just flowed, through the performers, from the pens of Purcell, Monteverdi, Scarlatti, Gabrielli, Arne, Bach and Mozart ... and others ... and anon!

The 17th Century Christmas writings of Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn and those others, well-known or not, came to colourful life in a context much broader than that of our own Leominster as, not content to render merely with beautiful sound the scene and musings of that vibrant age, the troupe embellished all with a smattering of costume and props – a style which laid down a lively back-drop for music and literary punctuation alike. We were transported ‘abroad’ and reminded that, across the centuries, we have all known how to live and ‘party’! The star, the babe, red velvet, dance, wassails, the bearing of the traditional boar’s head, London’s Frost Fair, Auld Lang Syne ... all evocative Yuletide images to welcome in the New Year when it comes ...

A band of joyful players, the Musicke Companye displayed their attractive personalities, well-honed skills and intelligent musicality in a programme of ‘early music’ second, in beauty and competence, to none ...

Stella Seaton-Sims

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