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The Times

April 2003

Past master class: Is old the new new?


   The cutting edge is in much better health [than Rene Jacobs' recording of 'Rinaldo'] in a new release from the early music group Red Priest (Dorian DOR- 90305). Nightmare in Venice is the title, and the four musicians (recorder, violin, cello, harpsichord) do everything possible to earn it. Vivaldi’s concerto La Notte starts us quaking; 17th-century English theatre music offers witches and furies; Purcell, Leclair and more disorienting Italian extravagances follow. Finally comes the group’s own fantasy on that much fantasised tune La Folia.



Authenticity? Not 100 per cent; barely 60: Red Priest’s exuberance involves at times exaggerated vibrato effects, mad glissandos and even a tincture of jazz. But Baroque music revels in the extravagant: where Jacobs’s scholarly embroidery stifles Rinaldo, Red Priest's larger-than-life approach only enhances the music's energy and lets its spirit fly. Magnificent playing, too.


**** Rating

Geoff Brown

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