Devon Baroque Chamber Ensemble
St Mary’s Church, Totnes
Sunday May 27
On Sunday I was privileged to review another of Devon Baroque’s concerts, this time in the lovely setting of St Mary’s Church, Totnes.
On this occasion it wasn’t the full Devon Baroque (DB) orchestral configuration of some 14 strings, with wind players added as required, but their far more intimate Chamber Ensemble.
I had fully intended to use one of the photos I took on the night on my mobile to head my report here at ArtsCulture, but noticed a few pictures which DB Orchestral Manager Nicola Smith had since posted on Facebook, taken a couple of days after the Totnes concert, at a Community for All Day in the lovely surroundings of the Great Hall, Dartington, where DB’s two Directors – violinist Persephone Gibbs, and harpsichordist Andrew Wilson-Dickson – had come for the day to talk about Devon Baroque, all things baroque, the instruments they use and, by way of a special treat, a short recital of Bach works for the combination.
One of the pictures (right) which Nicola posted really caught my eye, because, while it showed Persephone and Andrew (identified by a yellow ‘X’) engulfed by a number of visitors, among whom a good number on the day were children, they were actually doing very much the same job as on the concert photo (left), with which I decided to make up a composite.
Both in their performances and programming, Persephone and Andrew, and the rest of Devon Baroque, large or small, one of the main aims is to make the music from the time of Bach, Telemann, Vivaldi, and many others, accessible, and to dispel the myth that ‘baroque’ is synonymous with ‘dreary’ or ‘stuffy’.
If you had been at the Totnes event, or indeed at virtually any of DB’s more recent offerings, with Persephone and Andrew at the helm, you would have been really surprised by the genuine informality, despite the 100% professionalism of the performance and presentation. Hopefully some of those who attended at Dartington will now appreciate this, and, having been won over by the charm and down-to-earth nature of both Persephone and Andrew, will surely want to get along to DB’s next concert – full details at their website.
Glancing through the programme before the start of Sunday’s concert – ‘Bach’s Family & Friends’ – I felt honoured that Devon Baroque should have opted to use something of mine in their brief biography, where, in a previous review, I had described the full outfit as ‘the jewel in the county’s musical crown’. After Sunday’s outing with its smaller Chamber Ensemble, I would still be more than happy to stand by my earlier appraisal of this outstanding band of professional players.
You can read my full review here at Seen and Heard International.
Philip R Buttall