Fontanella Quintet, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH The Fontanella Quintet made a fine case for the recorder in serious music-making with an intriguing programme at St Giles Church.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

The Fontanella Quintet made a fine case for the recorder in serious music-making with an intriguing programme at St Giles Church.

It started with pieces from the Renaissance, went on to the Baroque period and ended with modern compositions. They showed what life there still is in the simple instruments that sounded well in the tall nave.

A glance at the polished timber of the great contra-bass recorder was enough to suggest what pleasure we were in for. It was not just a matter of lower pitch, though that helped quite a lot. There was a richness of tone too, supported by firm breath control and brought out by elegant articulation. The ensemble's playing was confident throughout.

Since Playford had Norwich connections, a performance of his All in a Garden Green was an apt opening. Echoes of the Elizabethan age could be heard in a pavan and a galliard, and an instrumental setting of Gibbons's The Silver Swan was interpreted with care and sensitivity.

The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba was put across with enough verve and precision to quell most reservations about arranging such a work for this sort of group. A quintet by Handel's contemporary, Telemann, was more convincing, before the idiom changed for the more challenging finale.