The classics: July 16

Affetto. NZ early music group. Atoll CD.

This is a very entertaining and spirited performance by Affetto, the group named after the Italian word for affection or affecting.

Soprano Jayne Tankersley has a wonderfully bright and controlled voice as she sings what are mostly harmonious items from the baroque "golden age" composers such as Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, Strazzi and others.

Formed in 2010 and based in Auckland, the group also contains Philip Griffin playing baroque guitar, vihuelas, theorbo, bass viol and percussion, Rachel Griffith-Hughes (harpsichord and organ), Peter Reid (cornetto) and Polly Sussex (bass and treble viola da gamba).

They produce a golden sound.

The programme is 18 tracks that are a mix of songs and instrumental music from Italy and Spain, with a final clever surprise: returning to

New Zealand in Philip Griffin's Whaia te iti kahurangi, introduced by Reid's putatara (conch shell trumpet).

With the un-baroque time signature of 7/9 the piece illustrates a Maori proverb urging a person to seek the treasure most valued: "if you bow your head let it be to a lofty mountain".

I particularly liked Tankersley's coloratura singing in Caccini's tender love song Amarilli, mia bella and Monteverdi's spirited Zefiro toma.

There are also works by Sancis, Ortiz, Hidalgo, Cassati, Sanz, Strozz, Palestrina, Merula, Marin and Mudarra.

In 70 minutes of fine music the group navigates through Renaissance and baroque centuries of music (some of it only sketchy scores) with admirable zest or tender feelings.

Verdict: Joyful, excellent performances.


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