REVIEW: "Joyous" and "medieval" performance from Concerts in the West

Yeovil Express: THE Artisans. THE Artisans.

THINK medieval, think joyous entertainment!

Even when these four young musicians, who have enough energy for many times their number, chose canticles from the great 13th Century collection, Cantigas de Santa Maria, the singing and playing was so commanding and life-affirming.

Emily and Hazell Askew brought an array of instruments, from tenor recorder to bagpipes, the vielle to medieval harp.

Leading the singing was Victoria Couper, her natural, clear voice having the right edge and musicality to shape phrases perfectly.

Sarah Stuart was in charge of the percussion, including bells, bendir and jungles attached to her ankles. Again, her considerable experience allowed her contribution to be instinctive.

We were led through music from four countries. The delight came from the informal introductions – the story of a ferret escaping from a carriage and crushed below it, but saved by the Virgin Mary.

Particularly effective was the later medieval two-part motet from England, Jesu Christes milde moder, beautiful in its simple, but for the time modern, harmonies.

The Artisans showed their complete confidence, an ability to make fun of themselves and a talent for medievalising any song by bringing the evening to a close with what they described as a song from one of Henry VIII’s 20th Century collections – ‘I’m Henery the Eighth, I am’.

ANTHONY PITHER

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