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BBC Music Magazine

April 2009


Red Priest RP004

I had to renounce some cherished prejudices when I witnessed, at a Red Priest concert, a standing ovation from 600 people aged eight to 80. Their playing is ‘historically informed’ but thrust to, and often far beyond, conventional stylistic limits – these are not so much ‘arrangements’ as metamorphoses. Here are Leclair’s Tambourin , hectically fast and quirky; a ‘Storm at Sea’ (RV433) wilder than Vivaldi could ever have conceived it and with interpolated sea shanties; a day in the life of a Pirate, culled from Couperin, with raucous vocal interjections; a newly-found gem from Tartini; an unashamed modern pastiche. All are played with spectacular virtuosity and mischievous wit.


Red Priest go outrageously over-the-top, but return from the other side with previously unimagined fun and delight. Occasionally they try too hard; a rattling Vivaldi allegro is interrupted solely to allow another musical excess. But it’s all a splendidly irreverent attitude to music under a glass case, advancing the spirit od David Munrow’s ‘Pied Piper’. If you’re not riveted, your children will be.

George Pratt

Performance ****

Recording ****

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