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Mail on Sunday

March 2009

Red Priest – Pirates of the Baroque

     [...] Another group [to the Kings Singers] who offer something unique and exhilarating are the quartet of baroque musicians calling themselves Red Priest. Indeed, they are at Cadogan Hall on Tuesday and on tour, with a concert of swashbuckling music they call Pirates of the Baroque, also the title of their new album.

     What they do is rearrange baroque music to introduce the rhythmic excitement of rock, while retaining, through the instruments they play and their exceptional musicianship, a real link to the original material.

     On their new CD, Jean-Marie Leclair’s Tambourin becomes a thrilling dance for recorder, with Piers Adams living up to his reputation as one of the finest baroque recorder players around. Vivaldi’s La Tempesta di Mare becomes a vigorous quartet, complete with occasional piratical shouts from the band, who also dress in pirates gear at their concerts.

     The only disappointment is Albinoni’s Adagio, actually a confection by a 20 th century Italian musicologist, Remo Giazotto. Its essentially syrupy character resists even Red Priest’s attempts to make it interesting.

     Don’t let all this stuff about pirates put you off. These people are really hot because, at their root, they are outstanding, serious musicians. The Washington Post recently described them as ‘jawdropping... an electrified audience shouted and cheered’. Another critic wrote ‘positively volcanic’, all of which is borne out by this CD.

     If you think baroque music is boring, look out for Red Priest.

David Mellor

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