Apruil 14 2002
at the Kelowna Community Theatre
The Community Concerts season ended with a bang on Wednesday night with Red Priest, an ensemble dubbed 'Pirates of the Baroque'. The members are Piers Adams, Recorders; David Greenberg Violin; Angela East, Cello; Howard Beach, Harpsichord; each is a virtuoso alone, but as an ensemble they are extraordinary. They seemed to be totally in synch with one another; I felt that they even breathed together. I can do no better than to use their own description of the concert ‚ 'Stolen masterpieces and long-lost jewels of the Baroque era performed with swashbuckling virtuosity'' complete with costumes.
The evening was fast paced and entrancing from beginning to end. The opening Bach was full of energy, sparkling with dazzling finger work.This was the case for everything they played. Even the slow passages had great warmth and charm, sometimes hauntingly beautiful as in the Tartini‚ 'Senti lo Mari' (Listen to the Sea), which was completely spellbinding. The recorder was used to create the sound of the wind and the waves, creating an almost eerie effect.
The programme was mostly Baroque, but not always the Baroque we are accustomed to hearing. It was vigorous, sometimes raw and earthy and full of color, the way I imagine it was performed in that era. Anyone who thinks Baroque music is dull and dreary should hear it played by Red Priest!
When the performers are having fun, so does the audience and it was evident that this was the case. To add to the fun, the group would insert a little hornpipe or sea shanty in the middle of a selection, in addition to playing some complete hornpipes with a Celtic flavor. They also found time to shout appropriate words or phrases from time to time.
Each player had solo work, all of which was wonderful. For me, 'The English Nightingale' played by Adams, on one of his many recorders as he walked though the theatre, was especially fine.
In an evening full of excitement it is tough to pick a highlight, but I particularly enjoyed their arrangement of Bach's well known Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, written for the pipe organ. It was an imaginative concept that showcased the group while remaining true to the original.
They ended the evening with a Concert Fantasy attributed to Corelli who reportedly took themes from other composers. This set of variations, full of tempo and mood changes finished with a grand flourish, sending us home wanting more.
Marvin Dickau is an Organist, Pianist and Conductor who has an A.Mus from the University of Alberta. He has conducted choirs and small orchestras, given solo piano and organ recitals and accompanied many singers and instrumentalists in Kelowna and Calgary.