'This abundance of eloquent interplay between York and Joseph was one of the most beautiful things to be heard in 2012'
»Before immigrant workers like Georg Friedrich Händel took over musical life on the British Isles and italian style became mainstream, there they wrote some of europe’s most extraordinary music. Unfettered by ideals of style such as harmonic slickness and formal curves and far from the dictates of exemplary, unified form, what counted was the grasp of the far-flung solution, not to appease the personal vanity of the composer, but rather to reach as far as possible into the realms of sound, rhythm and harmony. To marvel at what composers such as William Byrd and Henry Purcell could create is, admittedly, an elitist pursuit. Not because it is expensive – to this end one needed only a singer and an organist on the second day of Christmas in the Radialsystem in Berlin-, but rather because one cannot simply scan it over and immediately understand everything. Here there are no special effects, no spectacular gestures. For this music one has to leave ones everyday restlessness far behind and get up close. The british soprano Deborah York set the mood for concentrated listening right at the very opening of the programme with an old, unaccompanied folksong. It takes four verses to get to know this rugged formation, ranging wide over more than an octave with whimsically archaic intervals and irregular rhythms; after another four one is beginning to swing with it. The ear is now acclimatised to appreciate the rhythmical treatment which William Byrd gives the melody of a gregorian "Miserere": First he lays a two voice canon under the long notes of the choral; then the voices break into triplets, which no sooner begin to stumble. After the syncopation has calmed into a more regular walk, the rhythmical proportions begin to shift again. Where just before, two times three quarters filled a bar, now it is three times three. It sounds complicated, but in the hands of south african organist Jeremy Joseph, a transaction of elegant clarity. "An Evening Hymn - Old English Tunes for a long Winter's Eve" is the title of the programme and it leaves one to expect more melodies and songs than Deborah York in fact sang. Yet it is precisely this alternation between the songs of Dowland and Purcell and the intricate keyboard music for organ and harpsichord which lends the evening its intimate allure and holds the attention between the direct expression of the voice and the broken instrumental pieces. York sings with a grounded, burnished soprano timbre and concentrates on the essence of a work without hijacking the music to vanity. For Jeremy Josephs dissonance-rich continuo playing there remains much room for manouvre. One can present Purcell’s "Evening Hymn" in an overtly soloistic manner with all the expression concentrated in the vocal line. However, the wealth of this, the most glorious of all evening hymns, is more subtly yielded through a vivid understanding of the difficult relationship between variably long melodic lines and the symmetry of the accompanying bass. This eloquent interplay between York und Joseph was one of the most beautiful things to be heard in 2012. «
BERLINER ZEITUNG - Peter Uehling
Kronen Zeitung, Franz Gratl, 21.08.12
»Deborah York is one of the most renowned exponents of baroque singing around today and thrills with phenomenal technique and perfectly poised vocal delivery. Minasi is a phenomenal violinist with great charisma and virtuosity. Together they presented a colourful mix of scottish songs, dances and instrumental pieces with great verve and panache. But they were really in their element towards the end of the programme in the music written by italians in Scotland, the 'Scotch Cantata' by Bocchi and the cantata by Pasquali. Here their truly outstanding musical qualities were allowed to fully unfold. And so ended this delightful trip to Scotland on a real high from the Highlands«
Tiroler Tageszeitung 21.8.2012
»The concert of Scottish Tunes in Schloss Ambras with soprano Deborah York and `Musica Antiqua Roma` was one of the highlights of this year’s Innsbruck Festival of Early Music. Scottish music was once fashionable. Baroque composers used scottish elements liberally. In this concert we heard music from english, scottish, german and italian musicians, from Purcell and Dowland to Baltzar, Handel, Matteis, Geminiani and Veracini. Vocal music was interspersed with highly virtuoso violin music. This was characterised by fast string changes, wide intervallic leaps, broken chords and the full exploitation of the whole range, from highest to lowest registers, of the violin. Deborah York fully deserves her reputation as one of the greatest baroque singers in the business. With her clear delivery and masterly, virtuoso, flexible voice she moves one, uncluttered by vibrato, with a direct, unaffected expressivity. She kept the folksongs lean but as the evening went on sang with ever increasing abandon as she allowed herself to be inspired by the other musicians on stage. Musica Antiqua Roma has a special sound: Riccardo Minasi plays the violin almost with the warmth of a viola. Simone Vallerotonda plays lute and baroque guitar with a very present, metalic quality. Also Giulia Nuti pushed the music with a powerful ensemble-drive with her rhythmic, lean, percussive style. Veronica Febbi added her fuller, magical harp tones to the mix. As laid-back, clear and pliable as York sang, so Minasi played: virtuoso passages were breathtakingly relaxed and clean, soft and sinuous and at the same time modern with a continuous, energy laden pulse.«