Fiori Musicali have a residency at Canons Ashby which saw them perform at the National Trust several times last week. Every performance there is special but it was even more so this week as it was to celebrate the opening of the newly restored baroque gardens and to commemorate 300 years of baroque composer Corelli.
The festivities started on Thursday evening with an intimate concert in the Priory Church featuring Fiori Musicali players joined by soprano Judit Felszeghy (meaning that the lady can sing and she can sing really high!).
It was a gorgeous evening and such a lovely opportunity to take in the surroundings. I love churches, there’s something so peaceful and humble yet incredibly grand about them.
The light streamed into the church creating a natural spotlight for director Penelope Rapson and Fiori’s players as they played beautiful sonatas (small pieces of music) by Corelli and Handel.
As is the style of Fiori, there were plenty of interesting facts flying around as well as beautiful music. I learnt that Handel was the guy who got everyone into opera in England. Before Handel there hadn’t been much around. It was interesting to hear how the music played through the evening linked to the Dryden family (two and a half generations were present), who’s history is deeply involved in Canons Ashby.
Living in Britain, I’ve got to mention the weather again. Having some sunshine really made the evening especially when it meant that the audience could enjoy a nice interval refreshment outside!
After the sounds of baroque, we were treated to the sights with a sneak peak at the restored baroque gardens with a garden party.
Wow! I could wax lyrical about how beautiful they are but I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Some of us were lucky enough to get a historical talk about Canons Ashby by the very knowledgable Laura Malpas, National Trust visitor experience and community manager.
Saturday brought another fab Corelli concert, performed to a packed out audience, 140 people squeezed into the beautiful Priory Church. There was more stunning singing from Judit. Not only are the audience treated to her vocal treats but she wears full 18th-century costume, adding to the historic baroque feel.
Some of the audience had enjoyed picnics in the newly restored baroque garden before the show to get them in the mood. It really was a baroque affair!
Everyone was on the edge of their seats watching the performance unfold, captivated by the energy of the musicians as they charted their way through more brilliant sonatas by Corelli.
At the end, the audience showed its appreciation with foot-stamping and cheering (very authentic, according to Penelope, Fiori’s maestro!). And after all the sparkling playing there had to be encores (given all the applause) so all the performers were back on stage for Handel’s famous aria Ombra mai fu (sometimes called Handel’s Largo) a song all about plants and shady trees. An excellent example of Penelope finding just the right music to link in with the baroque gardens.
This comment, overheard from a member of the audience, nicely sums up everyone’s enjoyment of the sights and sounds of baroque:
“Aren’t we lucky to have this quality of music in the area!”