Snape Easter Music Festival

TONY COOPER Snape Maltings


Snape Maltings

This annual Easter mini festival produced the highest artistic standards and, I feel, is getting to be just as popular as the main Aldeburgh Festival itself.

The Hilliard Ensemble's performance of Carlo Gesualdo's Tenebrae Respon-sories for Good Friday got the weekend off to a good and vibrant start with their early-evening performance at Blythburgh church - just the right time to hear a good bit of Latin.

For just six voices, the Responsories - a mixture of plainsong and polyphony - were contemplative and inspiring, to say the least.

Gordon Jones (baritone) - standing practically motionless - sang the lessons in sonorous plainchant with precision and beauty. It was glorious to hear!

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As, indeed, was the concert by the Dufay Collective, who performed an early music programme performed to an exacting degree. They showed why they are a world-class outfit.

Their harpist/percussion- ist, Peter Skuce, introduced all their pieces in a very amusing, relaxed and free-thinking way. And we were introduced to all kinds of instruments, as is usually the case from such a group.

There was everything from shawms to bagpipes, including the hurdy-gurdy.

Surprisingly, however, keeping them in tune didn't cause too much trouble!

Music performed came from Italy, France, Spain and England, with the old English round-song Sumer is Icumen in opening the proceedings by courtesy of 60 local school-children (all brilliantly and proudly turned out), processing into the Maltings from both sides of the building.

It was quite an emotional experience. And for the children themselves it will surely count as a memorable experience too.

The Aronowitz Ensemble - a brilliant young sextet established through the Aldeburgh residency - made a striking and impressive debut that was measured, in turn, by a rapturous audience response.

Their programme of late-romantic works included Strauss's Suite from Capriccio (played with great warmth and feeling) while their performance of Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht brought out the work's rich textures and colours in a masterful and inspiring way.

Tom Poster joined them for a mesmeric abstract performance of Faure's first piano quartet. It provided the central work in what was a marvellous and entertaining concert and one, I feel, that they'll cherish for years.

The central focus of the weekend - Haydn's The Creation - saw a magnificent performance by the combined forces of the Britten-Pears orchestra and chamber choir, and the Fairhaven Singers under the direction of classical supremo Richard Egarr.

It was a joyful and passionate performance all round with Virgina Hatfield (a nice lyrical soprano dressed all in white) singing an angelic Gabriel while Matthew Rose had perfect diction singing the bass role of Raphael. He's a rising star and off to Glyndebourne this summer to sing Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

George Matheakakis (bass) and Katrina Broderick (soprano) - dressed all in black - made an imposing and loving pair singing the roles of Adam and Eve. They looked so happy and content.

The virtuosic Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer made his Suffolk debut directing the chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica. Playing a thrilling programme of Shostakovich and Mozart, it brought the festival to a perfect close.

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