By Arachne

London International Festival of Early Music

I'm in Blackheath, London, for the London International Festival of Early Music. Last night's opening concert was a disappointment. I'm not sure why - it was competent enough but not enthusing despite the enthusing of the trio's leader. This morning's two recorder players, Nik Tarasov and Vincenta Prüger, were a delight. Extremely skilled, and their love of what they were doing was infectious. We heard a lutenist, Jacob Heringman, talking about lutes and playing some, accompanied by a viola da gamba. Later in the day we heard a viola da gamba player, Susanna Pell, talking about the instruments and playing some, accompanied by a lutenist. Same pair!

This evening's gala concert was Jane Chapman playing a Taskin harpsichord newly made by Guido Bizzi in Italy (which will go on sale at the festival exhibition tomorrow for £35,000). In the first half I felt much as I had last night and was frustrated at being seated in a place where I couldn't see her hands.

The man sitting next to me was taking discreet notes and like me was glancing up at the nearby video camera where a small monitor occasionally showed us the stream from another camera filming her hands on the keyboard. I had a hunch he was a reviewer from the Guardian (and turned out to be right!). I haven't seen his review yet.

Everything changed after the interval when Jane Chapman played a new composition by Roxanna Panufnik who, it transpired, was sitting in the row behind me. From then on it buzzed and my camera gatecrashed the celebrations at the end for this photo while Chapman's students were taking turns playing the harpsichord. Left to right: Jane Chapman, Guido Brizzi and a bunch of flowers hiding Roxanna Panufnik who were laughing at a slightly more formal picture someone had taken on Guido Brizzi's mobile.

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