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Kate Molleson, The Guardian 10 June 2014

smileyThe ever-impish Concerto Caledonia played the Scottish soldier Captain Tobias Hume, who when not at battle composed some of the finest viol music of the early 17th century. This was brilliantly spirited playing, with supple, deep-felt viol duos interspersing brawn and sharp banter from tenor Thomas Walker.sad

Kate Molleson, The Guardian 10 June 2014
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Kate Molleson, The Guardian 10 June 2013

smileyGlasgow's early music consort Concerto Caledonia were joined by violinist Rachel Podger for a gorgeously spirited set of music by Purcell, Matthew Locke and the late-17th century Italian violin virtuoso Nicola Matteis: his Bizarrie all'Umor Scozzese ("Ground After Scots Humour") had Podger reeling off boisterous, beautifully shaped pyrotechnics. Her playing was poised and passionate, lilting and sparky, and the rest of the ensemble followed suit. David McGuinness brought a light touch to Purcell's solo Suite in D on a sweet-toned virginal, and in extracts from Locke's setting of The Tempest and Purcell's The Fairy Queen the group's sound was buoyant and mellow.sad

Kate Molleson, The Guardian 10 June 2013
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Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman 7 June 2013

smileyConcerto Caledonia's unique performance style is to deliver early music with a panache that is impeccably informed, beautifully refined, yet ignited by a cheeky and compelling charm. And that's without mentioning the eccentric dress style of director David McGuinness, whose linen shorts and jacket are a million miles away from the normal staid attire of most early music makers.

It was a style that went down well in last night's informal early evening concert, for which McGuinness's compact group of regular musicians was joined by the grande dame of Baroque violin, Rachel Podger. The music itself had an eccentric twang to it, from Restoration theatre music by Matthew Locke and Henry Purcell, to the wonderfully bizarre pyrotechnic writing of the slightly younger Neapolitan violinist and composer Nicola Matteis.

The theatre pieces - Purcell's suit movements from The Fairy Queen and Dioclesian, and Locke's from The Tempest - were an exuberant delight, even if Locke's safer expression left him in the shadow of the charismatically inventive Purcell.

But part of the joy of this programme was to hear the more private aspects of either composer set against the public utterances.

As for Matteis's Scots-inspired Bizarrie all'Umor Scozzese, the ever increasing instrumental whoops and glissandi had all the foot-staming energy of a wild knees-up at the local folk club.sad

Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman 7 June 2013
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Feedback, BBC Radio 4

smileyAn entirely positive reaction, nay, an old-fashioned rave, for the Early Music Show. I normally find crossover, mixed-genre recitals completely off-putting: they usually combine the worst aspects of each genre rather than the best. Concerto Caledonia are a glorious exception to this. Their playing, their singing, their brilliantly eclectic choice of material, were all simply marvellous.sad

Feedback, BBC Radio 4

 

The Herald_1

smileyBach's St John Passion is one of the great monuments of western civilisation, though to treat it as such is a mistake that too many performers have made. In stripping back his forces to the bare essentials – 11 singers and baroque group Concerto Caledonia – Mark Padmore's approach was intended to be revealing rather than reverential, something it ultimately achieved not through the shock-tactics of iconoclastic interpretation but through wonderful simplicity and surety of vision.

A performance using this size of forces was unlikely to favour old-fashioned slow and stately; however, more surprising was that it resisted the other extreme. This wasn't Bach whipped up into a frenzy of excitement, but a performance that in the absence of a conductor settled easily into a series of natural-feeling tempi.

And though it lacked the instant gratification of fast-and-furious performances, overall it was a more rewarding result, the slick choreography of one movement into the next without clunking changes of pace or unnecessary pauses, making the dramatic impetus of the crowd scenes and the intentional breaks all the more effective.

The soloists, led by Padmore's thoughtfully expressive Evangelist and Roderick William's noble Christus seemed to have more than customary freedom to make of their arias what they wished. Matthew Brook communicating the urgency of bass aria Eilt, ihr angefochtnen with a pace that took the accompanying chorus a little while to match, while the rich beauty of countertenor Iestyn Davies's voice was used to full effect in Es ist vollbracht.

With Richard Holloway's address reflecting on the nature of John's Gospel given in lieu of the traditional Lutheran sermon, this was a contemplative account of the Passion movingly concluded, as Bach himself would have done, with the sixteenth-century motet Ecce commodo by Jacob Handl, sung by both the choir and orchestra players.sad


The Herald
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The Herald

smileyThe eminent, not to mention polemical, American musicologist Richard Taruskin has been known to refer to contemporary performances of early music as the new-old music played in old-new ways, in an allusion to the generally spurious claims of the performers to historical authenticity.

This is not a jibe that would bother Scottish period instrument group Concerto Caledonia, who make no pretence about attempting to recreate the historical intentions of a now-defunct age in their groundbreaking performances and who appeared in Greyfriars Kirk with their baroque set-up instruments amplified and with an electric piano sitting beside the harpsichord at the back of the stage.

The concert, entitled Spring Any Day Now after the whimsical little Fred Frith piece with which it opened, defied any kind of simple classification. It isn't often you find Burns songs sharing the programme with Frank Zappa, Finnish fiddle music, Astor Piazzolla and Thomas Morley. This was an eclectic mixture of music, one that would not doubt have had some purists running for cover, but it was certainly neither stuffy nor worthy, as so many forays into unknown musical territories almost inevitably end up being. Instead, it was great fun, at times resembling nothing so much as a good jamming session among friends, albeit one on period instruments.

Buccaneering Concerto Caledonia director David McGuinness, playing keyboards, was well matched by flamboyant American fiddler/baroque violinist David Greenberg and along with sisters Katherine and Alison McGillivray on viola and cello, they energetically threw themselves into a concert that crossed every kind of musical boundary. Replacing an indisposed Lisa Milne, soprano Mhairi Lawson joined the players for some deceptively simple and lovely arrangements of a variety of old songs, from laments by Burns to altogether happier pieces.sad


The Herald
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The Scotsman

smileyIf you’ve never heard an 18th Century band rocking, this is your chance.  Was this really a period instrument group? Director David McGuinness was almost jiving at his harpsichord ...sad
The Scotsman

Early Music Today

smileyThat a baroque ensemble should slip so comfortably into a contemporary music festival speaks volumes about Concerto Caledonia's approach to early music.sad
Early Music Today