16 February 2015
Salut! Baroque are will of the wisps, slinking on stage in formal black, long dresses, unspoken, changing their lineup throughout the performance, various mixes of baroque strings, voices, oboe, harpsichord, recorders. This is genuinely early music, not ancient but European and feeling before Bach. This program was called Mr Purcell's farewell and featured three pieces written by friends, John Blow, Henry Hall and Jeremiah Clarke, at Purcell's untimely death, aged 35. There were some new names and even new vocabulary here. The piece by William Croft was a Ground in C minor. Ground as in Ground bass, another word for Basso ostinato, a recurring pattern. Or Matthew Locke's Curtain Tune in C major, obviously meaning an opening number, perhaps short. I loved the bass and soprano singing, often together, with dispersed pitches and unquestioned harmonies. The harpsichord that was gentle but omnipresent. The recorders of moderate volume but definitional of the period. It was my occasional revisit to the bass violin or baroque cello, tuned in fifths with the high string matching the violin's low G string. I'm learning bowing at the moment so I was particularly taken by Matthew Greco leading the violins with wonderfully fluent and expressive bowing. The music was lovely, in two sets. I enjoyed the vocals and even chuckled at some in English and was taken back to a past that seems very early, and they'd left. On the day, these were performers of few words, letting the music speak for itself and for Purcell and his contemporaries. Otherly and dignified, grounded and early.
Salut! Baroque performed at the Albert Hall and will return for another three concerts in the 2015 program. Salut! comprised Josie Ryan (soprano), Alexander Knight (bass), Sally Melhuish (recorder), Hans-Dieter Michatz (recorder), Jane Downer (baroque oboe), Matthew Greco (baroque violin), Julia Russoniello (baroque violin), Valmai Coggins (baroque viola), Tim Blomfield (bass violin), Monika Kornel (harpsichord).