Recital takes audience back in time

The Rare Theatricall, Cratfield Church, August 22.

Coming at the halfway point of this season’s Concerts at Cratfield, Sunday’s recital by The Rare Theatricall provided a refreshing change from the norm. Playing on period instruments, the ensemble, Katarina Bengston and Huw Daniel, violins,Caroline Ritchie, viola da gamba, with Sarah Barnes, soprano, and directed from the harpsichord by Christopher Bucknall, delighted their audience with vocal and instrumental music of the late seventeenth century.

String sonatas, either solo or trio sonatas by Buxtehude, Purcell and Georg Muffat, all near contemporaries, comprised the instrumental music. What was striking about all of it was the inventiveness of the free compositional technique of short alternating movements; adagios of expressive intensity, allegros often, especially in Buxtehude, demanding considerable virtuosity. With such fresh vital playing and exemplary sense of style, this largely unfamiliar music was a delight to hear.

The vocal music was equally satisfying: chamber cantatas by Buxtehude, and Hymns from Harmonia Sacra by William Croft, Jeremiah Clarke and Purcell, all with instrumental accompaniment, and superbly sung by Sarah Barnes. Buxtehude may have got the lions share of the music, butwhat finer ending could there have been to a recital in this beautiful church than Sarah Barnes ravishing account of Purcell’s An Evening Hymn?

Frank Cliff

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