November 9, 2016



The Telling

Brighton Early Music Festival

St Pauls

Clare Norburn soprano
Ariane Prüssner mezzo soprano
Leah Stuttard harp

This was an atmospheric programme which took us on a tour of five countries in medieval Europe through their music.  Lilies and roses were used as imagery in sacred text in praise of the Virgin Mary and also in more earthly focused love songs. As flowers associated with the Virgin Mary, the lily and the rose inspired countless compositions from the mesmeric 12th-century chant of Hildegard von Bingen to florid Italian 14th/early 15th-century songs.  The Telling’s evocative combination of voice and ancient harp brought a focus and grace to these fine examples of this beautiful repertoire that alongside secular pieces comparing the beauty of the loved one to a variety of flowers provided us with an evening’s pure, simple and engaging entertainment.


Opening with all three singing Laudario di Cortona from 13th century Italy, progressing down the central aisle with candles and ending on a processional hymn from Hildegard of Bingen‘s Ordo Virtutum the music and singing stayed focused on the elicitation of flowers and their evocation  in music, O rosa bella by Johannes Ciconia, one of the most beautiful pieces of Italian medieval  music was superb. Ariane Prüssner and Leah Stuttard performed La Serena – a traditional Sephardic song and her full bodied rich Mezzo mixing with the ancient harp altered the crepuscular atmosphere of the church and gave us one of the highlights of the evening.  This concert and The Telling provided us with an illuminating and illuminated evening of evocative and emotionally vibrant music which highlighted not only the colour and sustained purity of their voices – both solo and wrapped up together in tonal harmonic bliss – but also the way in which this music, by women, for women, about women supplied a superbly evocative medium for the celebration of the feminine being, both spiritual and corporeal.

See the full programme of music here

St Pauls in West Street is a lovely venue to experience early music in, hidden in the throbbing heart and fleshpots of the city centre it feels like a sanctuary of purity and contemplation. There was far more LED lighting on display than the promised candlelight with the technology of slowly pulsing colour changes interfering with the musicians ability to play at one point  but that’s a small gripe from such an entertaining evening.

The Telling are:

Clare Norburn soprano

Ariane Prüssner mezzo soprano

Leah Stuttard harp, voice and drum

The Telling bring  intimate concert  pieces with the aim of  evoking the Middle Ages through ballads, music, poetry and story-telling. They aim to create a new kind of concert experience for the 21st century, while encapsulating the spirit and music of the past and this evening, LED’s not withstanding,  they succeeded.

For more info on the BREMF ot to book tickets see their website here.


Friday, November 4

St Paul’s Church