There couldn’t have been a better way to finish the current season of the Totnes Early Music Society series, than this delightful recital by Concentus VII.
Enhanced by the impressive new staging the society recently purchased, the programme opened with a charming reading of a cantata by Lotti, where American-soprano Emily Atkinson was on top form, singing with great control, perfect diction, and the real ability to communicate every nuance of the text despite it being in Italian, achieved partly by having committed everything to memory, but more importantly by her sheer presence and demeanour on stage.
Instrumental sonatas by Barsanti and Vivaldi respectively gave Louise Strickland (recorder) and Belinda Paul (oboe) the opportunity to shine, although in the former the harpsichord did seem to overpower the soloist at times.
Harpsichordist Dan Tidhar put his two-manual instrument through its paces in a Bach arrangement of an original oboe concerto by Marcello, though it might have been felt slightly more entertaining, had a Trio Sonata or similar involving all four instrumentalists been offered instead.
The final item drew the very best from all concerned, including cellist Sophie Willis, and giving Emily the opportunity to demonstrate yet another facet of her vocal prowess – a well-honed use of coloratura as she negotiated the tricky runs and leaps of a Handel cantata with consummate ease, and in such a beguiling and charming fashion.
PHILIP R BUTTALL
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