Norwich Baroque and Amphion Consort Norwich Baroque and Amphion Consort

Christopher SmithWymondham AbbeyChristopher Smith

Wymondham Abbey

The 15th Wymondham Music Festival got off to a fine start with a sell-out concert by Norwich Baroque and the Amphion Consort. Though the programme was entirely made up of works by Vivaldi, that did not mean any lack of variety.

Two concertos for strings revealed the Italian composer's skill in using the same instrumental ensemble in different ways. With Jennifer Bennett as the deft soloist, one of his violin concertos showed yet another facet in an attractive light.

Yair Avidor's arrangement of a cello concerto for theorbo offered a more unusual pleasure. With its long neck, his instrument looked like an over-grown lute. What was impressive, though, was the delicacy with which he intently traced both the quiet bass and the gentle melodies of contrasting movements.

The celebrated countertenor Michael Chance sang Vivaldi's settings of two well-known Latin texts, the triumphant Nisi Dominus and the emotionally rich Stabat Mater.

Completely at home in the florid style of early 18th-century religious music, he negotiated every technical complexity with relaxed confidence. He also knew how add extra intensity where it was needed. His artistry was summed up in the colour and tone he found when repeating the word sorrow or launching into a jubilant Amen.

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