Battaglia! Instruments of Time and Truth
Review: Instruments of Time and Truth final concert, Battaglia! from its Summer Concert Series, from 8 July - 12 August 2021.
[Disclosure: IT&T provided me with a ticket to this concert for the purposes of this review.]
Battaglia was the sixth and final concert in early music ensemble, Instruments of Time and Truth’s summer series of concerts. The ensemble truly saved the very best till last! This concert brought together everything that is fun, wonderous and beautiful in classical music and presented it in an accessible and friendly format.
The musicians in rehearsal, earlier in the day.
The “battle” element of this concert came from the idea that two instruments, featured in the programme, the violin and the cornett ( a precursor to the oboe) are in a battle to see which one is the best. The programmed music featured both instruments as the voices, sometimes solo, sometimes together, luxuriously supported by the most lovely, tiny pipe organ I’ve ever seen - more on that later.
In this concert, each musician got a chance to introduce the pieces and their instruments informally and personally - the talks were filled with fun, passion and emotion – it was so easy to listen to.
Violinist Bojan Cicic told us that in the 16th century - the period from which the pieces in the programme were chosen - the violin wasn’t considered the highbrow instrument it is today. If anything, Cicic told us the violin was considered inferior to the cornett. Cicic showed us his lockdown online purchase, a replica bow based on a bow made in 1591 - an expense which this concert subsequently justified.
Bojan Cicic's Introduction to the Baroque Bow video.
Later in the concert, cornett player, Gawain Glenton, told us that in the 16th century, the cornett was considered the most superior instrument, second only to the human voice. This is because the cornett was the closest in sound and adaptability to the human voice. Glenton explained that as the human voice was considered to be God-given, in the 16th century, it was therefore thought to be the greatest instrument of them all. When Glenton started to play the cornett, the cathedral was filled with the most luxurious, rich sound – like an oboe only far more resonant, warm and mellow.
If you'd like to hear Glenton play.
Finally, Silas Wollston spoke about the organ. Wollston explained that the exquisite little organ that he was playing was made in 2009 based on a 16th century Italian organ. Made of cypress, Wollston explained that this wood is considered by instrument makers to create the most beautiful tone. And indeed, when Wollston played, each note was lush and opulent.
This concert was filled with beautiful pieces from 16th century Italy - listening to these pieces, played with such passion, vivid images filled my mind - King Arthur and his court, knights riding across a bleak winter landscape, medieval court ladies in rich brocade….not in any way historically or geographically accurate images - but vivid, nonetheless.
Glenton, after the concert, talking music and the cornett with the audience.