Ceruleo: Paradise Lost
Guildhall Artist Fellowship Recital
Music Hall, Guildhall School of Music and Drama. 10 July 2017
The five-strong group Ceruleo (two sopranos, cello, theorbo, and harpsichord) got together at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2014. They have just completed a one year Artist Fellowship there, the first time a this has been awarded to a group. During their year, they gave several performances of their programme ‘Deplorable Fire’ commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, including a live performance on BBC Radio 3. They presented their Paradise Lost programme, based on John Milton’s poem (published 350 years ago in 1667) as their final recital of their Fellowship year. The music was interspersed by extracts from Paradise Lost.
The pieces represented music by composers broadly from Milton’s time, with the focus on Blow and Purcell. They opened with Blow’s Laudate nomen Domini and Giacomo Carissimi’s motet (in reality, a mini-oratorio) Lucifer Caelestis Olim, the latter musically depicting the conflict between God and the Archangel Lucifer that also features in Paradise Lost. Instead of the intended bass singer, Jenni Harper sang Lucifer’s boastful aria, with Emily Owen acting first as the narrator and then portraying God’s dramatic intervention as he sends angels to deliver flames and drowning, together with miscellaneous other punishments at the gates of Hell. Both singers grasped the intensity of Carissimi’s musical depictions well.
The rest of the programme concentrated on Purcell, and became lighter in mood, including pieces like ‘Man if for Woman Made’, ‘Dear Pretty Youth’ (beautifully sung by Jenni Harper) and ‘If love’s a sweet passion’. The continuo group had two spots to themselves with Purcell’s ‘Fairy Queen’ Overture (with some impressive cello playing by Kate Conway) Blow’s Ground in D minor, catching its French lilt nicely. Toby Carr and Satoko Doi-Lick were very effective in their continuo realisations on theorbo and guitar, and harpsichord.
They are repeating this programme on 13 September in Fenton House. further information can be found from their website here.