Edmonton Journal (Canada)
Swashbuckling show blows them out of the water
Early music group Red Priest delights with zany brand of baroque
by Bill Rankin, Journal Culture Writer
evening, the Edmonton Chamber Music Society saw a picture of what it
would like to become. Their guest artists, the dynamic early music group
Red Priest, drew an absolutely packed house full of listeners ranging
from elementary school children to long-time devotees of Edmonton's
chamber music scene. The concert began 15 minutes late so the large
crowd could be seated. There was a buzz in the Old Arts Building that
is rare at most concerts, let alone chamber music events.
did far more than just play good old music well. They put on a show
that awed with the breadth of musicality the four musicians displayed,
and regularly drew encouraging whoops and giggles for the wit and zany
antics they brought to the performance of everything from Bach and Telemann
to traditional jigs and hornpipes.
Piers Adams and his crew's brand of Baroque is often vaudevillian in
its approach, but when called for, say in the beautiful Adagio from
J.S. Bach's Flute Sonata BMV 1020 or in Niel Gow's Lament, played tenderly
by violinist David Greenberg, Red Priest met the music where the sentiment
comes from, and they delivered the intended emotion without putting
their own personalities front and centre.
When they shifted from bouncing on their toes, adding the equivilent of body English to a zesty Vivaldi Allegro into quiet mode, you felt they could easily hold an audience for a whole evening without the clownish antics. But why bother when what they do do is so much more fun for everyone? Even harpsichordist Howard Beach, sporting a colourful bandana, found ways to dramatize his role as supportive continuo contributor, especially toward the end. A little more of him in a solo role would have been nice. But make no mistake, their over-the-topsail comic flair was always in the service of the music first.