A Purcell Celebration

A concert took place on Monday July 13 2009 featuring a String Quartet from the Royal Irish Academy of Music with Fraser Wilson, continuo, on the Heckmann Organ with sopranos Rosie Cooke & Cally Youdell and mezzo soprano Tuula Voutilainen.

What a lovely way to bring this Music on Mondays series to a conclusion; we could see Fraser’s ambition, to establish Saint Bartholomew’s as a leading city venue for beautiful music, being achieved. The early concerts were rather sparsely attended but over the past weeks we were welcoming audiences of up to and over 70. The Clyde Chorale concert, ‘Mostly Mendelssohn’, attracted an audience of over 300.

Now to this wonderful Purcell concert. In the writer’s opinion, the programme could only be carried off by very accomplished and near-professional musicians. To hear the strings resounding through the nave was a joy and the players looked as though they too were enjoying the experience. I marvelled at the ease with which the singers performed what to me seemed crazily intricate passages in their solos, duets and trios. Some of the more familiar items featured in the second half, to name just a few:- Rosie’s plaintive and moving singing in Dido’s Lament and then in O let me weep which had to be sung to the 8.00pm chimes of our bells. Cally lifted our spirits with the lovely I attempt from love’s sickness to fly and here we had those pleasing running passages. Earlier, in opening the second half the musicians had carried off, with quite some polish, the opening of Act II of Dido and Aeneas. We heard Tuula’s lovely mezzo tones in the earlier half too. Fraser gave us a seamless continuo at the Heckmann chamber organ.

When we then retired to the Parish Room for some wine and nibbles all three combined with an a capella farewell encore to the whole series. We have to thank Fraser for his courage in embarking on what turned out to be a highly successful series; roll on his next ventures!

Bobby Barden