KENDAL Midday Concert Club was treated to a sumptuous performance of music from the 17th Century by the strings of the Dunedin Consort, writes IAN JONES. This group has a well-earned international reputation for its authentic presentations and the mellow sounds of baroque bows on gut strings supported by the plangent notes of the harpsichord demonstrated why. An additional treat was provided in most of the music by the presence of two violas giving a rich texture to the harmonies.

The programme, introduced effectively and amusingly by Matthew Truscott, was varied and interesting, the playing always beautifully blended. Two substantial pieces by Georg Muffat provided the programme’s framework. Movements from his Armonico Tributo were striking in the range of tempi, instrumental colours and dynamics. The consort played with obvious affection for this music and, particularly in the final passacaglia, demonstrated virtuosic technique.

One of the delights of current KMCC concerts is the variety of programming which frequently includes works by little known composers. This concert was no exception. The opening work by Francesco Navara introduced us to the gentle sounds and superb blend of this ensemble. The Dunedin Consort, standing to play and with little vibrato, immediately captivated the audience.

An amusing work by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer revealed the descriptive and pictorial skills of composers of the period. Fencing School was a remarkable account of the preparations and preliminaries for a fencing match, the opponents clearly sizing each other up in the opening Arias; going through the initial warming up exercises in the Sarabande and making aggressive noises in the Courente. This all led on to the encounter itself with vigorous aggressive music punctuated by much foot stamping and posturing! Finally, a melancholy air accompanied the loser being patched up!

Heinrich von Biber’s name is better known and his Ballet Lamentable was a most affecting work full of melancholy falling phrases. The central Gavotte provided welcome contrast with its lively dotted rhythm.

One of the inevitable consequences of playing on ‘authentic’ instruments is the need for much tuning between pieces. This was done quickly and efficiently by the Dunedins and was much less of an interruption to the flow of the programme than it often is. Altogether the audience enjoyed a most satisfying concert which did much to enhance the reputation of the KMCC and maintain a high level of interest.