"seasonal music honouring Hawksmoor’s architecture"
by Michael Gray for remotegoat on 20/12/18

Nicholas Hawksmoor’s St Anne’s Limehouse stands proud on the Commercial Road. Consecrated in 1730, it made a perfect choice for this festive concert featuring music by the architect’s musical contemporaries, organised by the SPAB London Group in association with The Georgian Group.

Yes, there were favourites for us to sing along, and there was mulled wine and mince pies. But the main focus of this programme by Baroque Encounter was music on a smaller scale, secular as well as sacred, stylishly performed by two singers and three instrumentalists.

Purcell was represented by his court and theatre music – Sound the Trumpet worked very well in this acoustic, as did the instrumental Chaconne from Dioclesian. Sweeter than the Roses, expressively sung by counter-tenor Glenn Kesby, lost some of its dramatic effect in the gloom, as did the duet from Handel’s opera Rinaldo, with Lucy Thomas’s soprano blending beautifully with Kesby. It was preceded by a charming Augelletti, the birdsong cleverly suggested by the recorders of Lauren Brant and David Beaney.

The Christmas theme, after the interval, featured music from the continent: arias from Monteverdi and JS Bach, Buxtehude’s In Dulci Jubilo with Katie De La Matter on chamber organ, and a wonderful arrangement of Corelli’s Christmas Concerto for two recorders and continuo.
Carols, too, Ding Dong [twice] from the pews, and from Baroque Encounter, L’Estrange’s Lute-Book Lullaby, and the even better known Christmas cradle song, the Coventry Carol, perfectly suited to these modest forces in such evocative surroundings.

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