Transition Projects, Kings Place

Music critics can be a grumpy lot, rarely more so than when producers recruit video projection to "liven up" the otherwise dull experience of sitting through a concert. It was a mark of the intelligence and beauty of Netia Jones's video accompaniments to a series of mostly early and late music concerts that scarcely a frown could be registered. That the concerts were semi-staged, allowing clever live film to contribute to the projection, also helped.

For Couperin's Leçons de Ténèbres, the sopranos Claire Booth and Elizabeth Atherton were cast as Jewish widows wailing by the ruins of the temple (economically rendered by a jagged silhouette of fallen music stands), while Stephen Wallace explored Dowland's luxuriant Elizabethan melancholy, in the guise of a love-sick accountant drowning in a vale of stationary-cupboard detritus.

Of the three concerts I attended, the most successful audiovisually was the Couperin. One of the finest and most versatile vocalists of her generation, Claire Booth was at one with the French composer's archaic grieving, her tones flecked with subtle emotional shifts. At times when her head was bowed, the notes fell from her mouth, their dying sounds oddly sustained by Jones's Garamond-inspired projections overhead.

The Dowland was to my mind less successful, partly because Wallace's forthright, wondrously powerful countertenor was at odds both with the more tentative aspect of the songs and with Andrew Maginley's rather timid lute accompaniment. That Wallace resembles a lean and sartorially savvy David Brent didn't help the video either, though the idea of an office crush for the theme was a good one.

Booth returned for a dazzling rendition of Berio's Sequenza No III for solo voice, joined by Clio Gould's solo violin for No VIII and Oliver Coates's solo cello for No XIV. The auditorium was scarcely a third full, the playing world-class.

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