An English Christmas
MICHAEL DRAKE King of Hearts, Norwich
> King of Hearts, Norwich
It was Cromwell's fault for taking much of the joy out of the 17th century Christmas, and last evening's programme was reflective of the times of Purcell and Byrd, being more sensitive and meditative.
Nevertheless the Fiori Musicali trio of harpsichord and violins/viola conveyed the sounds and feelings of a past era with much brightness, while James Bowman demonstrated the artistry in his counter-tenor tones.
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Not all was unfamiliar - Pelham Humfrey's Him to God the Father, part of Sweet Was the Song and the Coventry Carol and Byrd's Lullaby are often heard today, and all were immaculate in both diction and vocal control.
Purcell's colourful harmonic collisions in his E flat Sonata were given full rein by Fiori, and not only did they play with style and precision in this and the sonata in G minor but the continual changes of pace and rhythm were masterful in conjunction with the trio's musical body language which was a joy in itself.
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It was in Italy that the concert ended - with Giacomo Perti's Laudate Pueri Dominum (Psalm 112) where voice and instrumentalists gave a beautifully regulated amalgam of praise for a happy present- day Christmas with the atmosphere of the 17th century.