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CLASSICAL Red Priest - Carnival of the Seasons/ St Mary's Centre, Chester .....

Byline: Glyn Mon Hughes

JUST to see the name, Red Priest, billed means that some tasty musical treats will be on the menu.

But it's far more than a performance of some very familiar - and some not so familiar - Baroque works which sets them apart from other ensembles.

It's the theatre, the fun, the irreverence, the vitality, the very joy of music making that made this concert so special.

They called it the Carnival of the Seasons and, perhaps predictably, that Vivaldi set of concertos was there. But it was all so different. Scored for violin, cello, recorder and harpsichord, it shed new light onto one of the most popular and, dare one say, overplayed quartet of works by this highly prolific composer.

Piers Adams, Julia Bishop, Angela East and David Wright played Spring at a furious pace, with much comedy and wild abandon in the score. Adams's recorder playing was as delicate as it was extrovert and downright virtuosic, while Bishop's violin playing was electrifying. Not that the continuo players were left out of the limelight. For much of the time, this was a stunning perfor mance.

Summer was equally riveting, while Autumn was pure comic genius.

There was a particularly satanic Witches' Dance, by Robert Johnson, a riveting performance of the D minor Prelude from Bach's second suite for solo cello, and a highly inventive performance of Purcell's Midsummer Night's Dream Suite, in which the harpsichord strings were dampened by draping a scarf across them.

Add a particularly intense "Crucifixion" Sonata by Biber, and a vastly spirited set of variations for solo recorder by van Eyck on What Shall We Do This Evening.

There was even time to celebrate Christmas with a rather breathless performance of Corelli's "Christmas" Concerto, his G minor Concerto Grosso.

A superb show and an ensemble not to be missed.

Glyn Mon Hughes
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 15, 2011
Words:309
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