Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Anniversary Baroque

This was the title chosen for a delightful harpsichord and cello recital at Owlpen yesterday afternoon. In use for the first time as a Cheltenham Festival venue, the 19th Century Holy Cross church is perched above the essentially 16th Century manor house - a picturesque ensemble featured in many photographs. As Nicky Mander, our generous host pointed out, music from the Baroque period finds an echo in the terraced garden with its stone steps and yew hedging, falling away below the house. (Pevsner records that it was laid out in 1723.)

The anniversaries were those of C.P.E. Bach (300th birthday, 8th March last) and Rameau (died, 12th September 250 years ago). Besides music by each, the duo performed pieces by a contemporary Italian, Lanzetti: new to me - I liked it best of all.

An enchanting programme, with brief, but infectiously enthusiastic introductions from cellist, Jennifer Morsches: she banished nearly all my feelings of discomfort from sitting in that penitential pew.

Nonetheless the four of us in our party were content to be able to adjourn to Owlpen's Cyder Press Restaurant for tea (and excellent coffee cake); so winding up il pomeriggio culturale as our Italian friend Adriana put it. My photograph shows her in a post-concert discussion over the French harpsichord, the hand of its player, Bruno Procopio, resting upon it.

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