Bath Bachfest: Gabrieli Consort and Players
Gabrieli Consort and Players
Imagine a perfectly tuned racing car moving at high speed at Silverstone in a Grand Prix. In musical terms, this performance of Acis and Galatea was not dissimilar: one and a half hours of music without a pit-stop, just a very brief pause for throats to be cleared, but not, alas, for legs to be stretched.
And what music it was, from the Allegro Vivace orchestral opening to the robust final chorus, counselling Galatea to dry her tears and mourn no more for the dead Acis.
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And inbetween, some of Handel's most tuneful and animated music: Mhairi Lawson, full of love for Acis in As When the Dove, tender and appealing: Acis, sung by Nicholas Mulroy replacing Jeremy Ovenden, neglecting his sheep to sing Love in her Eyes, followed by a sparkling duet, Happy We, elegantly joyful singing, to warm the heart on a bitterly cold evening.
And Ashley Riches as Polyphemus the epitome of angry frustration at Galatea's lack of interest, in a thoroughly muscular Ruddier than the cherry: no doubt about his feelings in a most convincing display of petulance.
This is a powerful resonant basso and the audience loved it. Simon Wall and Nicholas Hurndall Smith played Damon and Coridon with lively vitality and the choruses O the pleasure of the plains and Mourn all ye muses sounded like a chamber choir, balanced, beautifully phrased, and rich in tone and colour.
Fine singing, enhanced by the superb quality of the playing, occasionally dominant, but supportive and sympathetic under Paul McCreesh. It was an evening's music which started at a great pace, and, with a few gentler, more spacious moments, sustained its life and energy throughout, with immaculate accomplished musicality. A great start to the Bachfest.
Peter Lloyd Willliams