Review: Chichester Cathedral Lunchtime Concerts series – Continuum

Continuum, Chichester Cathedral, Oct 3

One waits all year for days like these and then they are soon gone so it’s best to seize them while one can. That is what Continuum did today as they ‘soave s’il vento’-ed their way through a very pleasing programme of mostly baroque mostly woodwind music.

If I don’t get synesthesia I can at least get pictures sometimes when they’re on offer and Francois Couperin’s Prelude from La Francoise was surely butterflies, especially below the arresting mauve artwork, Peace Doves by Peter Walker that filled the air in the nave and at first sight could have been taken for blossom.

Michael Overbury’s harpsichord was to provide the subtle continuo throughout but had an early solo outing with two pieces by Byrd, an elegant Callino Casturame and the gigue-like La Volta, that balanced delicacy with the requisite formality.

Rachel Beckett returned with recorder rather than flute for the ensemble’s Quantz, a Sonata both Bach-like and Bach-lite with a leisurely Larghetto and a frolicking Vivace in which, as was the case for several of these pieces, Sebastian Comberti’s cello was as much the main line as the woodwind. There’s very little I enjoy more than the thoughtful wanderings of a baroque cello and in the Vivace he was most amenable and jolly for he’s a jolly, good cello.

This music is incapable of harshness and a Chaconne by Leclair was summery in its orderly flights and serenity before the two flutes alone gave a tantalising, somehow almost modern-sounding, mysterious Allegro from the Duet, F. 59 by W. F. Bach. And then the finale was his slightly younger brother, C. P. E.’s, Trio Sonata Wq 151 which began suspiciously not far from where W. F. had left off along with more cello to immerse ourselves in, Elizabeth Walker embroidering patterns with Rachel before the cheery send off in the Allegro that left one wanting nothing more demonstrative or profound because this was a gorgeous confection entirely to be enjoyed and very welcome for that. There might well be deeper, darker more meaningful things ahead of us, most Tuesdays from now until late November, but few will leave us feeling as much the better, and possibly lighter, for having heard them.

David Green

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