Red Preist

FRANK CLIFF Red Priest is different from other early music groups. Scholarship and virtuosity it has in abundance, but these it uses as a springboard for mostly creative re-composition of works which it performs with a vivid and, more often than not, hilarious theatricality.

FRANK CLIFF

Red Priest is different from other early music groups. Scholarship and virtuosity it has in abundance, but these it uses as a springboard for mostly creative re-composition of works which it performs with a vivid and, more often than not, hilarious theatricality.

Carnival of the Seasons was the apt title of Saturday's programme at the King of Hearts,Norwich, with the most famous work of the Red Priest himself, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, as its centrepiece.

This was Vivaldi as you've probably never heard it: minimalist – recorder, violin, cello and harpsichord and the solo violin line played by recorder. There are precedents for such an approach and musically it works well. What made it so memorable were the histrionics which brought this most descriptive of music vividly to life: this, and the virtuosity of Piers Adams on a variety of recorders: cascades of notes at incredible speed, conjuring wonderful sounds out of the bass recorder, as in the beginning of Summer; even playing two instruments at once to produce the double stopped solo which opens Autumn.

Music from Purcell's Fairy Queen and a compressed version of Corelli's Christmas Concerto received the same treatment, while more conventionally Julia Bishop gave a stylish performance of one of Biber's Crucifixion sonatas and Angela East played Bach's prelude in D minor for unaccompanied cello with supreme authority. Scholarship, virtuosity, tremendous vitality: great fun and everything from memory.