REVIEW: NEPTUNE’S SONG: Brighton Early Music Festival

November 2, 2016

12821594_10154172073701996_1693766693705767258_n NEPTUNE’S SONG

The Constellation Club
Katie Thomas – conductor

Telemann ‘Water Music’ suite and JS Bach Orchestral Suites No.1 and No.2

Tue 1 Nov 


imag9735Taking place in the superbly lit and extraordinarily interesting Sea Life centre’s Victorian Gothic vaulted arcades this was a delight of a night. It’s been a while since I’ve had such a pure Enlightenment evening but listening to Bach while watching – intently- a Cuttlefish’s  skin throb and pulsate with hues of light and observe me back form the abyss is a wonderful delightful experience. It’s also the very definition of the theme of this years festival – Nature & Science. There is something perfect about Telemann and sea life and not served up on a plate, but gently wafting, schooling and swimming around in the vast tanks around us as we sat and quietly wandered around the space enjoying the superb music.

Katie Thomas’s Constellation Club took us on a well-loved musical journey, with some Rococo delights perfectly suited for the literally Baroque environment (Baroque means imperfect pearl, another delightful association). Thomas’s conducting was spirited and light, giving the music enough space to flood the brick vaults while keeping the precision and delicate nuances focused. It’s not the best venue to host a classical music concert as the pumps, oxygenators, splashes and general life support for the very varied sea life is constantly working away in the background, but to be honest, this didn’t really detract from the wonderful quality and the pure spirit of fun that the Constellation Club brought to their programme of music this evening.  This was rapture in the deep.

imag9740Showcasing The Constellation Club in chamber orchestra configuration for the first time, the evening’s nautical voyage embarked with Telemann’s “Water Music” suite. Overshadowed by Handel’s famous settings, Telemann evokes the physical swell of the tides expertly from the outset before conjuring up the sea gods, water nymphs, and storms. After more calming breezes, the final movement celebrates with a sailors’ dance.

imag9733The programme also featured two orchestral suites of JS Bach. The flowing passages of the majestic and playful dance movements, culminating in the famous ‘Badinerie’ for solo flute from Rachel Beckett. This was a refined and well balanced programme of music, familiar to most, but always welcomed and well loved.

The Constellation Club is a concert project group directed by Katie Thomas. It unites the best professional musicians in the UK to present a broad spectrum of the finest works in the vocal and instrumental repertoire, both core and eclectic.
The Constellation Club are

Katie Thomas conductor
Madeleine Easton leader
Iona Davies violin
Jane Rogers viola
Jonathan Byers cello
Pippa Macmillan double bass
Pawel Siwczak harpsichord
Rachel Beckett flute, recorder
Katharina Spreckelsen oboe
Sarah Humphrys oboe, recorder
Hayley Pullen bassoon
The evening finished off with a unexpected tour of the rest of the Sea Life center and with Telemann’s exquisite harmonies echoing in my mind I wandered into the deep, to gaze in wonder at the creatures of the abyss swimming all around and over me from out of a Perspex tunnel, and isn’t that Dear Reader, what life is all about?

u0z0qqodFull event details are here

The Brighton Early Music festival continues to provide high quality  performance with an edge of innovation that attracts new people to experience old music in engaging ways. To learn more about the rest of the festival events see their website here.