Saturday, 19 June 2010

Academy of Ancient Music/Wigmore Hall, Ray Gelato/Ronnie Scott's, Sweet Charity/Haymarket

England v Algeria and I'm off to the Wigmore Hall ('and you're not even gay', says a friend) for a concert of English music given by the AAM. My highlight was Purcell's 'Lord, what is man?' performed by the tenor James Gilchirst. Arms outstretched to the audience, he delivered it with the gentle persuasiveness of a preacher. I'm sure Purcell would have approved. I must admit, I don't think I've ever been so moved by Purcell such was Gilchrist's exemplary diction and phrasing. The absence of the basso continuo in 'Evening Hymn' that followed gave this well known work a freer jingly-jangly quality I'd never heard before, and all the more refreshing it was for it.

After the interval Gilchrist was joined by the French Horn player Michael Thompson for Britten's Serenade for tenor, horn and strings. Thompson was note-perfect, no mean feat in this fiendishly difficult work, but at times seemed overly cautious that he down played some of work's drama, particularly in the opening introduction. But I'm being ever so picky. If you were looking for a patriotic glow that night, this was the place to be.

Ronnie Scott's reassuringly retro interior suits the sound and style of London jazz man Ray Gelato and the Giants, a slick ensemble that wouldn't look out of place in a Scorsese film. Even Gelato's jokes have the tinge of a bygone era; 'have you heard Lionel Richie has converted to Islam? His new record is called Halal, is it meat you're looking for'...even the stoney faced stag party in front of me laughed at that one.

Sweet Charity. I want to learn the Frug..possibly the silliest and sexiest dance of them all. Great show.

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