Red Priest

MICHAEL DRAKE The Assembly House, Norwich (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)


The Assembly House, Norwich (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)

If this unique quartet had subtitled yesterday's performance “Rock Baroque” it wouldn't have been far off the mark.

That it was called “Pirates of the Baroque” also gave a good idea of what was on the programme.

In dress they gave a reasonable impression of their assumed musical characters as, with the line-up of recorders, harpsichord, violin and cello, they embarked on Bach - showing that they are, first and foremost, superb musical virtuosos who channel their talents into what is close to cabaret.

From JSB they moved to Simonetti, whose Sonata literally went down a storm, while Handel's (probably pirated) Aria Amoroso saw the cello played as a guitar and Albinoni's (definitely pirated) Adagio was influenced by their own tango rhythmic additions. Red Priest's inventive arrangement of a Couperin Suite, “Le Jour des Pirates”, confirmed the theme and the final Vivaldi Concerto, “La Tempesta di Mare” with some of their own fingermarks on it, continued at breathtaking speed but still showed that the players listen and play to each other as well as the delighted audience.

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It has been an extravagant, extrovert and extraordinary hour of fun and great entertainment.

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