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An evening of period music ... and tasty cakes; CULTURE CBSO Centre Stage CBSO Centre ****.

Byline: Christopher Morley

Unleashed from their parent orchestra concerts, CBSO players enjoy presenting their own events where they take centre stage themselves.

Their lunchtime programmes are thoughtfully constructed and enthusiastically received.

And very occasionally they are granted an entire evening for their enterprises.

Sunday witnessed an engrossing programme based on the writings of Samuel Pepys, with music from his period delivered by a tiny band and a neat vocal group drawn from members of the CBSChorus.

Jackie Tyler and Julia Beiss wanger devised an engaging compilation of extracts from the great diarist, persuasively delivered by the genial Michael Collie, bewigg'd and appropriately costum'd, and the music they chose to weave around these readings provided a fascinating sound-panorama of music in late 17th-century London.

Naturally there was Purcell, standing head and shoulders above all his contemporaries, but John Blow came pretty close, and it was good to hear examples of works by some minor figures of the period, such as John Weldon (a name new to me), whose lovely "Dry those eyes", for all its vocal uncongeniality, was beautifully sung by the soprano Evelyn Tubb.

Tubb also gave a powerful interpretation of an aria from Augusta by Louis Grabu, totally unheard-of before tonight, and dying at the age of 25, and rose above the mannerisms of Henry Lawes' "In quel gelto coro".

But it is wrong to pick out details in this well-researched and cleverly compiled evening which flowed so beautifully, and where musical subtlety was never sacrificed to theatrical effect.

Two things stick in the memory: Jackie Tyler's generous cakes made to a period recipe, and the irritating ground basses which refuse to leave the listener's ear.


The genial Michael Collie
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 10, 2009
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