Monteverdi Vespers (1610)
Cummings’s jumping exuberance (while managing to play the harpsichord and organ continuo as well) set the tone for a Vespers which wrung every grain of dramatic force from its setting of a mixed bag of Marian texts, rounded off with a Magnificat of jaw-dropping virtuosity. This is unashamedly show-off music, as skin-prickingly exciting now as four centuries ago…Robust or refined, as the score demanded, The English Concert enjoyed a stellar evening of their own. In the “Sonata” that gives the orchestra their big showcase, the cornets and sackbuts (on their feet) made their instruments skip and dance with an exhilarating dexterity. Violinists Nadja Zwiener and [Kinga Ujszaszi] stood up too for their solo roles, executed with rhythmic vigour and a piercing lucidity of tone.
Boyd Tonkin – The Arts Desk