The Dominion Post, 17 August 2011

Baroque brought to life delightfully

The Dominion Post, 17 August 2011 

REVIEW: Musing on this concert, I cast my memory back to the 1980s and the renaissance of interest in authentic practice.

Then, both in concert and on record, there was boundless enthusiasm, questionable technique and wacky theories about just what constituted correctness in performance. In a concert of music such as that heard here, there would have been excruciating pitching, a dry, vibratoless sound and, more often than not, a strange swell in the middle of a phrase. It was greeted with messianic enthusiasm and was diabolical to review.

Not so these days, as complete professionalism built on highly informed teaching, can give us a proper appreciation of just what early music might have sounded like.

The members of Latitude 37 all trained in the Hague under the likes of Ton Koopman, Wieland Kuijken and Enrico Gatti, and all are, more importantly, supremely talented. Donald Nicolson’s wizardry on all keyboard instruments is well known to us, and Julia Fredersdorff on baroque violin and Laura Vaughan on viola da gamba and lirone are similarly impressive. Together, they provided a concert of myriad delights with music from the early days of the Italian baroque as instrumentalists broke free from the tight polyphony of, mostly, church music.

The music – short items from 14 mostly unknown composers – was played with marvellous freedom, superb technical polish and a use of ornamentation that was spontaneously applied. There were some highlights – the Amarilli, mia bella by Giulio Caccini and Toccata per spinetta e violini by Frescobaldi, for example – but the abiding memory for those who ventured out on a wretched night was the superb advocacy from a young group destined to make a huge name for itself.

Music: Latitude 37 (Julia Fredersdorff, Laura Vaughan, Donald Nicolson)

Stile Moderne – The Genesis of the Baroque

Ilott Theatre, August 15

Reviewed by John Button