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.