An Exhilarating Journey through the Baroque


Truly Madly Baroque – Red Priest

Richard Hammond, Cat Stevens and a recorder that looked like a cross between a drainpipe and a saxophone are just some of the impressions I took away after listening to Red Priest’s fizzing Truly, Madly Baroque concert.

Why Richard Hammond, you may ask? Piers Adams, described by the Washington Post as ‘the reigning recorder virtuoso in the world today’, has all the buzzing nervous energy of the former Top Gear presenter, but a great deal more talent …and height.

Selecting his recorders from an impressively large range of instruments dangling from the group’s harpsichord, Piers in a highly physical performance, together with his equally gifted musicians took us on an exhilarating journey through the Baroque era. At times such as in Vivaldi’s concerto, he played two recorders simultaneously, while later using an extraordinary drainpipe-like instrument –the bass recorder- in a beautifully reflective piece ‘L’Amiable’ by lesser known composer, JNP Royer.

Resembling Cat Stevens in his folk rock prime, David Wright made virtuoso harpsichord playing look effortless. I’ve never seen anyone adopt such a chilled out posture- almost like lounging in a deckchair, while dynamically racing up and down the keyboard with such insouciance. It seemed very apt when David mentioned Jimi Hendrix just before introducing an exciting extract from Bach’s Brandenburg concertos.

Red Priest musicians are known for taking the classics, as well as promoting obscure composers, and re-interpreting them. Adam Summerhayes, demonstrated violin pyrotechnics in Locatelli’s Labyrinth violin concerto and in Royer’s piece created a French café-like sound on the melodica – a keyboard wind instrument with a mouthpiece.  Wandering through the audience, Adam and Piers introduced a wandering minstrel-like atmosphere in the lively Canarios by Spanish composer, Gaspar Sanz and I think I detected some Scottish jigs in Adam’s various improvisational riffs throughout the evening.

And in the midst of all this energy was Angela East, providing an anchor for all the movement around her. Of particular note, was her performance of what has been described as the tear-jerking Adagio from Bach’s Adagio from the Viola da Gamba Sonata in G minor. Made famous by the 1990 film, Truly Madly Deeply, this was the inspiration for the title of this wonderfully entertaining, high energy gig.

Lucy Gordon

‘Photos by: Simon M Scott’  –


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