LIVE REVIEW: Dunedin Consort and His Majestie’s Sagbutts and Cornetts @ Durham Cathedral (16.7.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 isn’t something that immediately leaps out at you as being associated with the Durham BRASS Festival; the link was tenuous at best with some really interesting baroque era trombones, known as “sagbutts” being the only brass involved, although there were some cornetts, the precursors to trumpets. Added to this were two violins, a viola, a viola da gamba, a bit of a double bass-looking instrument with six strings, a violone and a theorbo, which is a really long string instrument you have probably seen in 17th Century paintings, like a colossal lute/sitar.

This wonderful band accompanied a simply breath-taking 10-member choir, who would have sounded amazing in any normal venue. But this wasn’t any normal venue. This was the cavernous and ornate Durham Cathedral.

I was really pushing the boundaries of my musical knowledge and taste by attending this concert, but I am very pleased that I did. Conducted by the very well respected John Butt (who also played organ), we were transported back to the days of King James I as lead soprano Joanne Lunn, so expressive both facially and vocally, gave us a note perfect Introit. She wasn’t the only soloist, and for me, performances from tenors Matthew Long and Joshua Ellicott and bass Robert Davies particularly stood out, along with another soprano, Esther Brazil.

It felt like an absolute privilege to be present at such an occasion, and I would strongly recommend bursting out of your comfort zone and trying something completely different now and then. The ethereal beauty of the voices, musicians, venue and history of this concert gave me such a lift that I will be looking out for the next Baroque concert with interest.

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