A summer evening in August. The setting is Næstved, Denmark.
Walking towards Sanct Pederskirke (St. Peders Church) the wind blows steep and the temperature does not feel warm. It feels more like an autumn evening than summer. The beautiful church is a perfect setting for what I was about to experience.
The Næstved Early Music Festival scheduled this year a performance of work from Henry Purcell (1669-1695). It is an ode to his music performed by the chamber choir Cantoque, the Höök Barock ensemble and Camerata Øresund.
Næstved Early Music Festival is an amazing initiative that puts the little Danish town Næstved on the world map with reference to music from before 1800. It infuses new life into a cultural heritage of early music and combines that with putting focus on the historical setting of the town. The actual festival is every 2 years in August and spans over several days. 2017 is not a festival year, but that doesn’t stop them to organise some concerts throughout the year.
Welcome to all the pleasures is a a true ode to music. The setting is the festival of St. Cecilia on November 22, 1683. It seems fitting as the weather outside indicated it was November after all, although we are in the middle of summer. The church (Sanct Pederskirke) was a perfect choice to let the music hear its voice. The acoustics were excellent and the musicians played at their top. When the choir kicked in, the sound was overwhelming and you knew you were in for something special. Purcell’s music contains the French frivolity while capturing that Italian passion of the time. Ad a twist of English harmony to the mix and you have a piece of music that stands the test of time and is today still very much alive.
The Overture opened part II of the first set with excerpts of Dido. Emotions are high in this part that start in happiness but ultimately ends in utter sadness. A story of love between Dido and Aeneas. A story of music taking you on a ride of emotions.
The second set of the evening took us to The Fairy Queen that contained 2 highlights. Hush, no more brought emotions to the church with an excellent bass voice, an orchestra playing at its best and the choir hitting the right emotions to fill the church with heavenly sound. The second highlight came moments later when Cordon and Mopsa was performed by 2 singers visibly having fun with the piece. A bass and male voice singing in high octave with a comical sauce during the performance made the piece stand out and captured the audience in full blow. What a performance. It was magical!
The musicians and choir took us through a variation of emotions and did it with ease. We went from celebrations to happiness, they took us through a moment of sadness to then take us back into a happy mood. It was a great experience.
The Næstved Early Music Festival deserves to be commended to take the initiative to bring this music back alive for an audience in these beautiful settings like Sanct Pederskirke in Næstved. Next year, August 13 to 19 – 2018, is the real festival year, and it is something to look forward to. Mark your calendars for a visit to Næstved and enjoy some truly wonderful music. You will not regret it.
Coming out of the church I had a smile on my face. I experienced something special and touching.