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Robin Blaze (countertenor) with The King's Consort
Wigmore Hall 30 Mar 2006

Matthew Truscott (violin)
Sophie Gent (violin)
Susanne Heinrich (viola da gamba)
Lynda Sayce (theorbo/lute)
Robert King (director - organ/harpsichord)

Henry Purcell: Sonnatas of Four Parts No. 1 in B minor; No. 3 in A minor; No. 4 in D minor; No. 9 in F (The Golden); No. 6 in G minor (Ciaconna)
Shakespearean songs by R Johnson: Hark hark! the lark;Full fathom five; Where the bee sucks. John Wilson: Take O take those lips away; Robert Jones: Farewell, dear love.
Anonymous: When Daphne from fair Phoebus did fly; The Willow Song
Henry Purcell: Songs and Dances from 'The Fairy Queen'


A beautifully designed sequence made this one of the most satisfying concerts presented by Robert King in recent years. With his core ensemble back on the small stage of their Wigmore Hall chamber music home, the sound was ravishing as heard in the critics' seats at the back; if that could be replicated it would be ideal for their CD of this programme which one must hope will follow in due course?


Two ravishing sounds made this concert memorable. Robert King in brief platform introductions enthused about Purcell's mastery of his craft and told us that only recently had pure gut become really serviceable for all four strings. Those strung on 17 C violins on this occasion made an effect that those present will always remember. [Do inform yourself about the mysteries of gut strings from Daniel Larson's comprehensive article.]


King extolled the miracle of Purcell's innovatory chamber music, especially the technical complexity of the D minor Sonnata, and the 44 times repetition of the ground bass of No 6, which he defied listeners to count successfuly, so cunningly are they embedded in a constantly evolving form.


The other 'ravishing sound' was countertenor Robin Blaze's; it has been a pleasure to follow his career since early days. The songs chosen for tonight had been researched by lutenist Lynda Sayce; Robert Johnson is the only composer securely connected with Shakespeare's own performances. These theatre songs were ideally suited to Blaze's mellifluous voice, without a wide compass and awkward intervals which can compromise perfection in opera. The balance with lute accompaniment was comfortable and Blaze's singing was faultless from beginning to end; a live recording would have required no 'patching'. To finish, another marvellous song to a ground bass, Purcell's “By beauteous softness” from the Ode “Now does the glorious day appear”, in which we all shared Robert King's bubbling enthusiasm for the great English composer whom his Consort had not been playing for some time.




Credit: Keith Saunders (Robin Blaze)

© Peter Grahame Woolf