On my only day trip to Bergamo it seemed that the traditionally awkward dance named after its residents was no longer conspicuously in vogue. But the multi-talented members of the Bergamasca Baroque Ensemble seek out as many examples of the baroque dance genre they can find and feature one in every concert (they even joked that they score each bergamasca out of ten!) Lynda Sayce chose a lyrical one, incongruously from an English manuscript, for a solo lute performance. Ms Sayce also performed on viol, theorbo, baroque guitar and baroque flute: such is the versatility of this trio. Katriina Boosey played a wide range of recorders and rarely has the tenor sounded more beautiful. Lucky are the pupils at Cranleigh who have lessons with this fine musician.
The third member of the trio is bassoonist Frances Eustace, who called us back from our interval wine on the bagpipes. One of the most remarkable items in this infinitely varied menu of nearly 30 movements was her playing of a bass aria by Kapsberger on the curtal, preceded by a delightful explanation of the instrument and its relation to the fagotto etc; her considerable scholarship was lightly worn. We travelled from the France of de Caix d’Hervelois and Monteclair to the Naples of Mancini (Francesco, not Henry); to the Venice of Vivaldi and Montalbano (Bartolomeo, not the Inspector); to the Hamburg of Telemann; to the Toledo of Ortiz; and nearer home for a set of dances from masques. The playing justified the concert’s epigraph from Pepys’s diary ‘When the Angell comes down’: in 2015 we were equally as ‘ravish’d’ as he was in 1668.
I hope the ensemble will be invited to return at a time of the school year when they can draw the larger size of audience they deserved, but those who were able to attend certainly gave them a warm reception.
This was my last concert in my final term at Cranleigh and it brought back many memories, including my final concert in my final term at my own school (Stockport Grammar School, founded 1487), playing a Handel recorder sonata with rather less easy virtuosity than Katriina Boosey and also of the last night of my first year at Cranleigh, when a group of leavers came to my flat, rather late, and asked me to play them a favourite piece of classical music (on vinyl, then, of course): I chose Fauré’s ‘Masques et Bergamasques’.