Errollyn Wallen, The Brook Street Band

CHRISTOPHER SMITH King of Hearts, Norwich


They serve up a tasty Christmas brew at the King of Hearts, and that applies to the music as well as the mulled wine. The Brook Street Band, named after Handel's London address, naturally offered 18th century music. But Errollyn Wallen struck quite a different note when performing songs that she had composed. First, she accompanied herself on the piano, then called on the band to back her modern idiom on their period instruments. It was a striking combination.

Even if not every word came across, the theme that “Nobody Wants To Be Alone” was clear enough, in both senses. There was delicious wit, too, for instance in a lyric about the Queen of Sheba's personal shopping assistant. The singer combined cheekiness, confidentiality and the ability to communicate.

Far from outdone, the band chose a programme that matched the solid virtues of Baroque works by Telemann and Handel with echoes of something close to folk music. For an organ Noel by Daquin, Carolyn Gibley called on Alan Gotto to draw the stops while an anonymous member of the audience held down a single bass note throughout. Deadpan hilarity does not come much better.

Just one point. Apollo's Entertainment At The Court Of Admetus, a suite by Corrette, was delightful. But wouldn't some explanation of the Greek legend behind it have added to our enjoyment?