The close-knit world of Early Music is one its inhabitants are often self-deprecating about. They speak of what they do themselves, and then of real music, but are clearly devoted and passionate too. I was very much an outsider and, in this sense, part of Liz Kennys target-audience; however, when it came to understanding the sometimes recherché nature of what was going on, I needed and benefited greatly from the explanations of those already in the know.
Pavlo Beznosiuk, brother of flautist Lisa, is half-Ukrainian, half-Irish. His jazz/folk improvisations are apparently legendary. For half the second set, his violin was amplified. I am not, however, convinced that, say, jazzed-up versions of Biber would transfer him to a wider audience. Liz Kenny herself most peoples first choice lute-player I was told played a more conventional set with Jacob Heringman, whose high- (or low-) light was a piece, again notorious in the Early Music world, where both performers play the same lute.
As a tribute to the popularity of the organiser, the inaugural audience was predominantly composed of early-music specialists. If a bomb went off in this room now, there would be a major dent in London concert life, somebody suggested. The audience seemed happy enough by this novel twist to the repertoire, and by the concert-with-refreshments format.
If Liz Kenny is to succeed in her other objective apart from entertaining the cognoscenti in a lighter vein while providing a sympathetic environment for in-jokes which is to proselytise Early Music, a more informal atmosphere is essential. There have to be chairs at tables, not seats in rows, more subdued lighting, and a venue where the caretaker does not arrive at 10.30pm to shoo away the guests.
This though is an initiative to be commended. At a time when classical music is under threat (this was, indeed, a subject for a number of conversations), any innovations in presentation are admirable. I look forward to the next occasion.
- Details of The Lute Club, which initially plans to convene three times a year, can be obtained from Elizabeth Kenny [email protected]
- Elizabeth Kenny has made a number of recordings, including the recent English Lute Songs, in which she plays for Robin Blaze [HYPERION CDA67126]; she also contributes to a CD of Vivaldi concertos [LINN CKD151]
- The ticket price for the first evening was £10, which included unlimited food and drink (including wine and beer)