December 2011


Steely swing

One night we are swinging along with Vivaldi; the next we’re rocking with Steeleye Span . That’s the Hall for Cornwall for you – something for everyone and all top rate.
Serenissima regaled us on Thursday with vivacious and intricate melodies from three centuries ago; and on Friday Steeleye Span took us back to their beginnings more than three decades ago. Both were joyful performances by consummate musicians with the happy knack of projecting their enjoyment and enthusiasm across the footlights. And both were melodious weavings of musical patterns than ran deep below the surface with individual players bouncing off each other with seamless continuity.
For their pre-interval session Steeleye Span relied on their Now We Are Six compilation. In the second half they delved deep into their back catalogue before giving the hall full of faithful old rockers the inevitable All Around My Hat, performed on demand. without rehearsal and totally word perfect, which says much about Steeleye’s durability and popularity.
As ever, the band was led by the ageless Maddy Prior, her crystal clear voice almost unaffected by the years, its purity and clarity still a true toe-curler as it echoed around the hall. Now that, dear X Factor contestants, is singing.
All in all, another winning night for HfC.

Vivacious Vivaldi

Having been reared in recent years on a regular bravura diet of music from the sublime Australian Chamber Orchestra it was almost a case of deja vu to witness Serenissima‘s appearance at the Hall for Cornwall on Thursday night.
Here was another band of 14 young(ish) musos who discard the traditional orchestral format of evening dress and seated performance in favour of embroidered waistcoats and stand-up playing. Replicating ACO leader Richard Tognetti the Serenissima band had an equally likeable and rumpled leader in Adrian Chandler. And while the former is a surfie dude and living national treasure, the latter could well have wandered in from the farmyard to have a chat before showing his wizardry with fiddle and bow. Two characters who imbue the audience with their obvious love of music.
It was a gentle evening of gentle music – perhaps a bit too much on one level – but played with a vivacity and enjoyment that was ably transmitted to the audience. Chandler’s deft leadership took only a nod, a wink or a smile to gain the required immediate and willing response from his fellow players. And his chatty introductions helped combat the po-faced reputation often suffered by classical music.
Vivaldi formed the mainstay of the program, which also featured pieces by Baroque contemporaries Veracini, Corelli, Albinoni and Torelli. And while the performance lacked the edgy and spirited attack of the ACO it was a welcome and enjoyable excursion into quality classical music of the sort that – judging by Thursday night’s audience – should be making more frequent appearances at HfC.
Encore!