WARM autumn sun streaming through the tall windows of The Fitters Workshop provided an appropriately Spanish ambience for this elegant concert of early Spanish dance music presented by Forma Antiqva and The Song Company.
Regarded as one of the most important classical music ensembles in Spain, Forma Antiqva, brothers, Aaron Zapico (harpsichord), Daniel Zapico (theorbo), and Pablo Zapico (baroque guitar), draw their inspiration and repertoire from the Spanish fascination with the sounds produced by plucked strings. The combination of baroque guitar, theorbo and harpsichord proved especially beguiling for this program focussed on the provocative Spanish courtship dance, the Fandango.
Elegantly poised throughout, the trio eschewed any hint of flamboyant virtuosity in favour of achieving a sound balance between instruments so perfect that it was often impossible to discern which musician was responsible for a particular sound. A quick glance, or an occasion raised eyebrow was the only signal needed to achieve perfect synchronicity.
Though few in the large audience would have been familiar with any of the composers featured by Forma Antiqva, with much of the repertoire being devoted to the work of newly discovered seventeenth century guitar master, Santiago de Murcia, the superbly nuanced interpretations of each work by the ensemble were so accessible that the concert quickly became a joyful voyage of discovery.
Midway through the performance, Forma Antiqva was joined by The Song Company for a scintillating performance of the earliest work on the program, Mateo Flecha’s “El fuego (from ‘Ensaladas’ Prague 1581)”. The obvious respect and relish shown by both ensembles for the input of the other into the achievement of this brilliantly virtuosic performance added an extra fillip to an already extraordinary program.