REVIEW - Rediscovered gem sparkles on its first appearance - The Leamington Observer

REVIEW - Rediscovered gem sparkles on its first appearance

Armonico Consort

St Mary’s Warwick

In the week a rediscovered portrait by Klimt left the art world gasping, Armonico took the wraps off a much longer-lost gem and placed it in the public eye with a tentatively-claimed world premiere.

Francesco Scarlatti’s Daniele tells the tale of the hero’s biblical progress toward his time in the lions’ den encountering trials, deceptions and dragons along the way. It’s a tale told on a large scale and Scarlatti invests it with impressive resources. Soaring arias and complex narrative passages are bookended by powerful choruses.

The consort and players delivered with all the aplomb and attention to detail they have rightly become known for. Under Christopher Monks’s direction there is clarity and confidence but also a commitment to storytelling and always breathless pace when required.

The fine acoustic was as supportive as it always is to period instruments and the placement of an echoing violin at the far end of the choir stalls continued this ensemble’s love of using the space creatively to reward those opting to hear it in the flesh.

Soloists will vary as the consort adds this work to its repertoire but all were excellent with perhaps a superb crystal clear bass contribution the standout.

While the Klimt is already attracting a £50m price tag, it’s less clear what future this rediscovered musical work will have.

The fabulous harmonies, heart-stopping musicality and sheer scale of Handel’s evergreen Dixit Dominus which concluded a very generous evening programme, are testament to the fact that Scarlatti will always be up against hefty opposition in an area of the market well catered for.

Thanks to Armonico’s sterling efforts, there’s a fair amount of his own work which might stand in the way of this newcomer getting frequent hearings.

But Scarlatti, and anyone else for that matter, could never claim the work hadn’t received the best possible reintroduction into the world and Armonico’s performance, together with an anticipated first recording, could remain the benchmark for some time.

Visit for details of the consort’s next visit to Warwick.

Matthew Salisbury


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