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(F) 1 out of 66
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme



Five centuries of musical celebrations (page 85)
Drams
Performers The Edinburgh Renaissance Band, Murray Campbell (Director); Polyhymna
Venue St Cecilia's Hall (Venue 31)
Address Niddry Street
Reviewer Simon Daniels


St Cecilia's Hall
The recent dreary and inclement weather failed to dampen the spirits of the Edinburgh Renaissance Band. Resplendent in their period costumes, the ensemble treated us to a journey through five centuries of music used in celebrations both secular and sacred.

The programme consisted of a number of short works, including a song written by Richard Coeur-de-Lion whilst in captivity and Cucu, cucu by the sixteenth-century Juan del Encina. This amusing song (about adultery rather than ornithology) was delivered with great humour by a small ensemble. As well as the recondite (Raimbault de Vaqueiras anyone?) the ensemble performed some more established repertoire. There was music by Josquin and Morales and music for the Medicis by Heinrich Isaac. However, the greatest works performed were by two Italian contemporaries: Cristoforo Malvezzi of Florence and Giovanni Gabrielli of Venice. The two sinfonias by Malvezzi were well played, with the intricate passages for cornetto (a recorder-like instrument played with a trumpet-like mouthpiece) carried off with great skill by Sandy Howie and Murray Campbell, the ensemble's director. In Gabrielli's Domine ex audi soprano Stephanie Davidson had difficulty making herself heard above the sumptuous sound of the instrumental ensemble.

But the actual music is only a part of the show. The dancers of Polyhymnia added an extra dimension to the performance. It was fascinating to see Renaissance dances such as the Marchesana actually performed with movement. Like the instrumentalists Polyhymnia were adorned with appropriate costume (although the rather bizarre dress for the Galiarda da Spagna made its wearer look like the Statue of Liberty as designed by Vivienne Westwood!). As well as this, Five Centuries of Musical Celebrations allows the audience to experience a menagerie of curios historical instruments. Anyone who wants to see knackers and rackets; hear the pungent sound of the shawm and the red-velvet sound of the viol; or enjoy the rich sound of cornetti and sagbutts will have no better opportunity than with this lively and enthusiastic group.
© Simon Daniels. 12 August 2002 Image: © Friends of St Cecilia's Hall

Run: August 12-13

(F) 1 out of 66
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