Another superb early music festival and exhibition at Greenwich. Slightly fewer exhibitors than last year, but both halls were packed. Given the length and depth of the recession that's a pretty good showing.
I went to just one concert: Rachel Brown playing Telemann's Twelve Fantasias for Solo Flute in the chapel.
I sat at the front in case the small sound of the baroque flute was lost further back. But it wasn't necessary. The implied harmony of these solo pieces, aided by the chapel's acoustics, may even have been more pronounced in the centre or rear of the hall.
Hall management should do something about their blow heaters! The audience mustn't freeze, but the flute shouldn't be made to compete with electric motors.
Rachel Brown is at the top of her game (she gave a festival master class the previous morning). These pieces, along with JS Bach's solo Partita and CPE Bach's solo sonata, are tremendously exposing, with the smallest error immediately visible.
She uses a sweet, bell-like tone, similar to that employed by Stephen Preston and Lisa Beznosiuk. Very different from the louder, breathier, more aggressive continental style of, say, Jed Wentz.
There were no errors of any importance. Ms Brown maintained a poise and a stamina to the end. That's a full hour of completely solo performance – a tremendous feat.
In some ways her performances are conservative. Not much extemporising, no showy cadenzas, little finger vibrato. But that means that when she does 'let rip' the palate's unjaded and it comes as a delightful shock.
For example, she deploys a wonderful technique whereby the final note of a phrase or section is given a gentle 'push' before she terminates it, sending it out into the hall to shimmer in the acoustics, like an exotic bird.
Worth keeping an eye on the concert schedules and hearing Rachel Brown play these pieces. She's recorded them recently.
This festival, and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance who host it, are gems. Long may they survive.
The following photos includes a few of the trip down-river from central London. High res copies are available. The image of Rachel Brown (shown above) is by C Christodoulou.