Rich vein of Baroque from colonial America

Cambridge Critique reviews the lunchtime concert by the Musica Vera Duo with Mark Bailey (viola) and Kevin Sherwin (guitar)

“Music from early colonial America? Who knew – certainly not your reviewer. My ignorance of this rich vein of Baroque and later music was put to rights by Mark Bailey and Kevin Sherwin, aka Musica Vera…

The deep resonance of the Baroque viola coupled so well with the lute-like modern classical guitar that it is strange no one has thought to put the two together before. As no repertoire exists for this instrumental odd couple, Kevin and Mark had arranged or composed all the pieces themselves.

It was very eclectic and hugely satisfying programme of short works. Aside from a lovely andante cantabile by Mozart and a rhythmical piece by Telemann (described by Bailey as two instruments chasing each other), most of the works were by neglected or forgotten composers – and in some cases by anon such as a tuneful march described in a rare score as by ‘a lady from Baltimore’. The festival theme of women composers was well represented including two delightful pieces by the 17th century Flemish composer Leonora Duarte. The style of the works fitted beautifully in the Pembroke’s chapel which was built around the same time (ish) as Duarte was penning her music.

Each work was short and to the point which meant that the duo could present an impressive array of works within their 50-minute slot. Much of it was from the American colonial period including a toe-tapping jig written in 18th century Philadelphia. Each offering was preceded by a short introduction by each of the two players and their genuine passion for this music, and the unique sound they make together shone  through. The two instruments were exploited to the full with uses of pizzicato on the viola and in one piece, rhythmic tapping on the guitar’s wooden frame.

Full review in Cambridge Critique