THE KING’S CONSORT – baroque ensemble and CRISPIAN STEELE-PERKINS – trumpet

Wednesday 7th November 2012

“The Royal Trumpet”

Handel – Mr Handel’s Water Pieces
Germiniani – Concerto Grosso in E minor
Vivaldi – Concerto in C, RV 114
Purcell – Suite from ‘King Arthur’
Purcell – Suite from ‘The Indian Queen’
Corelli – Concerto Grosso in D
Purcell – Chacony in G minor
Purcell – The Duke of Gloucester’s Suite

The King's Consort is one of the world's leading period instrument ensembles. For more than 30 years they have toured the globe, broadcast in every continent and made 95 CD recordings which have sold more than a million copies. For this concert of Baroque music TKC, directed by their founder Robert King, are joined by renowned trumpet soloist Crispian Steele-Perkins, playing instruments from his collection of antique trumpets. Together they perform a programme which includes sparkling music by Handel, works by the great English composer Henry Purcell, and exuberant Italian instrumental music, full of life, grace and vitality.


An Box of Baroque Delights at the King’s Hall Ilkley

In my review of Crispin Steele-Perkins’ last concert at Ilkley I wrote ‘This concert was not wholly satisfying as a programme and maybe that’s why there were more empty seats than usual…all the movements were very short and not all the music was top drawer stuff’. There were no empty seats for this event, the programme contained extended pieces, all good, and the trumpeter was partnered by the highly regarded Robert King and his Consort. That Crispian’s playing was even better this time is surely due to the wonderful support of the King’s Consort to which he responded with such evident enjoyment; baroque performance can be so po-faced, ‘correct’ but uninvolving, but not on this occasion.

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The items featuring the baroque trumpet were by Purcell and Handel. As Crispian pointed out in his very amusing and informative talk, in those times the trumpet was prized for its soft tone, and throughout the concert his ability to balance his sound with just five strings and a harpsichord was remarkable. The instrument is valveless, all pitches obtained just by varying lip pressure; the range of notes required in the gentle ‘Symphony’ from Purcell’s King Arthur is perilously wide but was traversed with total security, an extraordinary achievement.

But the concert entitled ‘The Royal Trumpet’ was not just a show-case for that instrument. We were treated to string concerti by Italian masters all played with lightness of touch and a crisp rhythm under the direction of Robert King at the harpsichord. For me the highlight was the Concerto Grosso in E minor by Geminiani; Robert King told us how some contemporaries were perplexed by this music that didn’t conform to expectations, an intriguing listen. Vivaldi’s instrumental music can sometimes seem too formulaic but his Concerto in C again was full of surprises. Purcell’s Chacony was played last season by a string quartet on modern instruments; hearing it played on period instruments with gut strings gave a satisfying sense of the music coming home.


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