Saturday night, and what to do?
Well last night J and I went to a concert – the Lofty Viol of English early music in the old town hall, just 5 minutes walk from our house.
And it was a treat – an impromptu assemblage of Australian viola de gamba players playing works by the usual suspects ( Blow, Hingeston, Gibbons, Ward etc) in a small and intimate setting – done in the round with an audience of only around 50, without any amplification or modern aids – letting you hear the music as it would originally been heard.
While the room wasn’t wood panelled there was just enough wood in the room to give the feel of the natural reverb that would have come a similar performance in a room with the traditional Jacobean wood panelling, such as the meeting room in Heslington Hall at the University of York where we used to meet to discuss the cost of printer cartridges and quite possibly Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax reputedly met to discuss strategy for the battle of Marston Moor.
(Incidentally one thing I learned last night was that Oliver Cromwell had retained the services of John Hingeston, one of Charles I’s court musicians, as his de facto Master of Music)
Anyway, in a small room – and remember none of this music would have been originally played in anything larger than the great hall of a Tudor or Jacobean stately home – the unamplified music came into its own with the natural reverb of the furnishings adding depth to the music.
For me it was a real treat to hear musicians of that quality in such an intimate setting. I have always had a love for music of that period despite having little in depth knowledge – I remember once driving back from some meeting and being astounded by a performance of some zarzuelas by Antonio de Literes, so much so that I ended up emailing the radio station concerned to track down the cd it came from.
Incidentally I never bought the cd and have always regretted never doing so – perhaps I will – it’s on Google Play, but strangely not on iTunes …
[and of course the actual answer is a streaming music service such as Spotify …]