None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Bach cantatas by candlelight (page 77)
Performers Susan Hamilton, Kate Hamilton, Julian Podger, Christopher Adams and Sandy Burnett (conductor)
Music Ach, ich sehe, itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe (BWV 162); Christ lag in Todes Banden (BWV 4)
Venue St. Mary's Cathedral (Venue 91)
Address Palmerston Place
Reviewer Angus Tully
In recent years, performances using 'period-instruments' have become more commonplace and have received much critical acclaim. Indeed, the softer, more sonorous tones offered by such instruments produce a far more congenial sound than their modern-day counterpart, that is, of course, depending on the repertoire. Bach Cantatas by Candlelight in the majestic setting of St. Mary's Cathedral, gave an opportunity to hear period-instruments playing the music for which they were intended. The performers consisted of mainly 'Local Edinburgh' people, several of whom perform regularly with the highly rated Dunedin Consort.
The first Cantata was the relatively little known Ach, ich sehe, itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe. Bach sets a text likening God's relationship with Earth to a marriage, comparable with the relationship between a Man and Woman. It is set in six movements, beginning with a Bass aria. A slightly unsteady performance in this opening aria seemed give rise to several less convincing movements thereafter. The one exception, however, was the Soprano aria performed by Susan Hamilton. Her genuinely beautiful voice appeared to glide effortlessly over the more florid passages and was a delight to listen to. The Alto and Tenor duet also provided some classic moments, as somewhat ironically, a real husband and wife team ( Kate Hamilton and Julian Podger) tackled Bach's florid, dovetailing vocal lines with some considerable success.
The second cantata was the famous Christ lag in Todes Banden, a Lutheran Hymn telling the Easter story over seven verses. Sandy Burnett notes that, in this cantata, Bach harks back to an older style, with much of the string writing in five parts. A much more convincing performance was given by all the soloists. Particularly noteworthy, was the setting of the second verse, sung by Soprano and Alto. The final chorale is a beauty, employing five strings players, continuo and all the singers. I could have listened to all evening .
In reality, this concert should have been far better than it was. The soloist were not without blemish and, at times, the continuo was barely audable. Sandy Burnett's conducting often appeared over-zealous (sometimes to little effect). Was a baton really needed for such an ensemble? The string players did a sterling job and it was a joy to hear these instruments. However, despite this being a period-performance, cornetts and sackbuts were conspicuous by their absence! And, one final complaint: the concert did finish 15 minutes early and for £7 did we get value for money?.........could we have that final chorale again, please Sandy?
© Angus Tully. 07 August 2002
Blazin' fiddles (page 79)
Musicians Bruce MacGregor, Catriona MacDonald, Aidan O'Rourke, Allan Henderson, Andy Thorburn, Iain MacFarlane, Marc Clement
Venue The Queen's Hall (Venue 72)
Address Clerk Street
Reviewer Angus Tully
Without a shadow of doubt, Scottish fiddle music has entered into the 21st Century!
Each of the band members are fine players on merit and in turn gave thoroughly entertaining yet individual solo performances. These solos also gave an opportunity for the band to recall stories from previous gigs and what influences them in their own particular brand of music. Indeed, Bruce MacGregor believes that it is his right to go straight from "mental jigs" to deeply "depressing airs" simply because he's a highlander! The only female member of the band, Catriona MacDonald, (a Shetlander) performed the kind of fiddle music played at a traditional Shetland-style wedding and this was very different to the more familiar tones of, say, Mendelssohn/Wagner. One could easily imagine the scene: small rural wedding followed by the mother of all ceilidhs.
The band is at its best when playing en-mass and their infectious enthusiasm is plain to see. What's more, they command every inch of the stage and it is a joy to watch. Also, they are not afraid moving around on stage whilst they play; in fact that's probably something of an understatement! Nevertheless, if one can find a chink in their armour, it is that their music is very much "of the moment" and perhaps in 10-15 years time one wonders whether the demand for high-energy fiddle music will still be there? Of course, the band were only formed four years ago and at the moment they're all young, so age may take its toll! Blazin' Fiddles are using their current tour of Scotland to launch their latest CD The Old Style and whilst a CD does catch the atmosphere of a live venue quite a bit, it can offer those who were there (and those who weren't) a chance to hear a brilliant young band playing music that could inspire a nation. The only pity was that they couldn't have gone on playing all night!
© Angus Tully. 13 August 2002
Blue Ramboni (page 79)
Drams (but this reviewer had more).
Address Oxygen Infirmary Street.
Reviewer Rez Guthrie
The entry for this Bristol based club in the Fringe programme promises a fusion of jazz, funk, Hip hop, drum'n'bass and house beats. On this, the first night, however the musicians seem to be in jazz showband mode. Nods were made towards the other musical genres, in the form of well studied 'musical jokes', and they showed signs that they are eminently capable of being fairly funky, but all was smooth and mellow, lacking even the piquancy of cheese. Seven members of what can swell to a ten piece were present, performing a mixture of their own compositions and other peoples tunes. This is not the kind of band to razz out an hour long version of 'Summertime'. They're really good , faultless musicans, the only problem being that I personally like my music a bit dirtier. Blue Ramboni are not my personal taste, but they can certainly play. They may be just what you're looking for.
Runs until August 25th, (not the 13th). 1-3am. £5 entry.
© Rez Guthrie, 2002
Boldly Blue (page 103)
Venue Hill St Theatre(Venue 41)
Address 19 Hill Street
Reviewer Neil Ingram
This one-person show brings to today's audience the songs they couldn't have heard in the Fifties, but it's difficult now to see what all the fuss was about. Some of the songs are quite funny, they're certainly not very rude, all that many of them say is that women often had sex with men they weren't married to. Quite an admission in those far-off days? Perhaps it was because these songs were written and sung by women, notably Ruth Wallis and Ruby Warren.
Although not really blue, it was fairly bold at times, as Lady Jayne did her best to get reactions from a small but enthusiastic audience. With a bigger crowd there would have been more to work with. Her singing is fine, but isn't helped much by the amplified piano accompaniment. Still, it's a well produced show, interesting but not really memorable. And the frocks are amazing!
© Neil Ingram, 16 August 2002 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until August 26 at 21:00