Monday 7 July 2008

Pushing the boundaries

Wearing another hat as Chair of the Early Music Network, I spent 24 hours at the weekend enjoying the opening of the Cheltenham Music Festival. New festival director Meurig Bowen had included three concerts by ECM artists: Trio Mediaeval, the Rolf Lislevand Ensemble and John Potter’s The Dowland Project. I guess ECM is one of the labels which most closely matches the eclectic interests and enquiring minds of the majority of our Britten Sinfonia fans, so you are probably aware of Manfred Eicher’s brilliance as the founder of ECM and creative genius behind the label. If you don’t know the label, you could do worse than start exploring it through these three groups’ recordings. Trio Mediaeval – three Scandinavian sopranos – have found a unique way to meld exquisite medieval English pieces, with commissions and Norwegian traditional folksongs; Rolf Lislevand overlays early baroque music with jazz and folk-like fantasies – continuo heavy, it is both laid-back and intense; and John Potter’s collaboration with saxophonist John Surman has moved on from Dowland to works by Lassus and Josquin. Try them all!

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