Concert Review from the 2017 Edinburgh, Scotland “Festival Fringe” – Edinburgh Renaissance Band


Edinburgh Renaissance Band: Musical Migrants Concert

16 August 2017


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“The contribution of travelling composers and performers to the music of Mediaval and Renaissance Europe is brought to life by the city’s (Edinburgh) famous early music group in the vibrant acoustic of St Mark’s Church. Music for dukes, divines and drinkers, played by a dozen musicians on a fascinating array of period instruments including shawms, cornetts, sackbuts, nakers, crumhorns, viols, fiddles, recorders, bells, bagpipes, rackets and serpent. www.edinburghrenaissanceband.com

Invested with an array of early music instruments,The Edinburgh Renaissance Band presented a concert fully attired in period clothing reminiscent of similar ensembles that have long faded from across Europe and the U.S.

With a well-crafted printed program replete with translations and citations, a diverse blend of early works by such composers as Joaquin des Pres, Heinrich Isaac, John Dowland, Giovanni Bassano and, the familiar Michael Praetorius were showcased. The audience was treated to an authentic sounding concert featuring instrumental and vocal works that represent the popular music of periods ranging from roughly the 14th through the 16th century. Negotiating these early instruments is not an easy task where pitch and delicacy in handling them requires a skillful performer and practitioner.

It is hard to imagine a more culturally viable and unique event presented at the Festival Fringe simple because of the opportunity to view and hear such rare instruments. They included crumhorns, early stringed viols and curtails, percussion, shawms, recorders, sackbuts and voices. Director Murray Campbell whose command of both the historical and musical significance of the works created a delightful masterclass atmosphere that had equal appeal for both scholars and the curious listener in the audience.

Musically, the band offered a consistent sound, though the strings were often overshadowed by the wind instruments. As insulting to the genre as it might be, amplifying the strings would not be a bad gesture for concert settings. Clearly this group is a favorite among local music enthusiasts.

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