Aldeburgh Festival: Masque of Moments

An exquisite insight into the music of what in many ways is a lost performance world. That was the treat for Aldeburgh Festival goers who tripped up the road to Blythburgh Church for this concert.

The Masque of Moments, Aldeburgh Festival, Blythburgh Church, June

An exquisite insight into the music of what in many ways is a lost performance world. That was the treat for Aldeburgh Festival goers who tripped up the road to Blythburgh Church for this concert. The extravagant and hugely expensive court masque, which had reached its height in the reigns of the early Stuarts, ended with Cromwell's axe.

We have Ben Jonson's and other texts, Inigo Jones's ornate stage and costume designs. We know that they were exotic, fiendishly expensive affairs, political, elaborately multimedia, involving drama, dance, song and instrumental music. Just how important one part was in relation to another, what the music sounded like, who took part - all that - has been less clear. Even the written down version of the music is simplified and stripped of its decoration.

Elizabeth Kenny, leading the lutes here, has contributed recently to our understanding of the music both through performance and scholarship.


You may also want to watch:


The assembled musicians not only delighted us, they did the music good service by giving it the concert airing it deserved.

Harps, lutes (including Liz Kenny's theorbo) and viols plucked and bowed dextrously and delicately, playing an anthology of music not only by Thomas Campion and the Lawes brothers, but also by a string of lesser known English figures, such as John Coperio (in reality, John Cooper), Thomas Lupo and Nicholas Lanier.

Most Read

There was masque and impish antimasque, Baroque dance tunes and saucy jigs

The singers, Sophie Daneman (soprano), William Purefoy (countertenor) James Gilchrist (tenor) and the wickedly witty baritone Roderick Williams, gave wonderful performances of songs varying from the passionate, the more formally amatory to the decidedly near-the-knuckle.

We can still only guess at the overall effect created at the court masques with the tableaux, the elaborate mechanical effects, the sheer lavish profligacy of its most

excessive manifestations.

Here, we were privileged to be intoxicated by the ornate decorated music in a venue, Blythburgh Church, with perfect acoustics. If you weren't there, the concert's being broadcast on Radio 3 on July 14.

Ivan Howlett

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus