REVIEW – The Brook Street Band @ St Marys, Devizes – Saturday 1st October 2022

Baroque & Roll

Andy Fawthrop

The last time I was in St Mary’s church was well before the C-thing to see TiTCo perform Spamalot, and not a lot has changed to the venue since then.  It’s still a largely a disused church, with all the religious fixtures and fittings still in place, and with exactly none of the trappings one might expect of a proper music venue, nor of (let’s hope sometime) a real Arts Centre.  But that’s a whole different story for another day.

In the meantime, The St Mary Trust had done their best to make the place as hospitable as it could be on a cold, rainy October night.  The guests for the evening were the Handel-inspired The Brook Street Band, come to bring us a wonderful short programme of baroque music.  Their presentation was built around the idea of musical nights from 18th Century Leipzig’s Kaffeehaus culture, featuring pieces from Handel himself, Bach and Telemann.

The performers – Lisete da Silva Bull (flute & recorder), Kathryn Parry (violin), Tatty Theo (cello) and Carolyn Gibley (harpsichord) – turned in a polished and professional performance.  The quartet, formed back in 1996, have been regulars on the BBC and have played at all the principal classical venues across the UK and Europe.  Making the best of the chilly conditions in this large church, the four of them took to the six pieces with great humour and enthusiasm.  The pieces were not only introduced and explained, but so were their individual baroque instruments.  Thus we had both entertainment and some education thrown in for good measure.

Despite the technical difficulties presented by the tunings needed for the various pieces (the explanation of which was way over my head), what we got was a programme that was up-tempo, light and uplifting.  My partner-in-crime Gail used the word “cheerful” and I wasn’t about to disagree with her.  My particular favourites were the first Telemann piece (Trio Sonata in G Minor) and the final Handel (Op. 2 No. 4 in F).

On the down side, the acoustics of the church are not currently of the best, it was definitely quite chilly in there, and the audience of about 50 could have been larger.  But on the positive side, we had a really excellent and uplifting recital of baroque music.  Well done to St Mary Trust for staging this event.

Once again D-Town had thrown up a little musical gem out of (it seems) absolutely nowhere.  Yet again proof, if it were needed, that the building of St Marys could (and should) be refurbished and re-used as what I think will be a great venue for the town.


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