Friday’s concert was a showcase of improvisation, extemporisation and virtuosic flair.
The Spanish brothers – Daniel, Pablo and Aarón Zapico on theorbo, Baroque guitar and harpsichord respectively – presented a programme of southern European music characterised by dance-like syncopated rhythms, repeated chord sequences and florid melodic embellishments.
Twelve varied works from mostly lesser-known composers made up the first half, with particular highlights coming in a set of three pieces: a delicate solo guitar preludio by Conte Ludovico Roncalli left an unresolved cadence to be finished by the theorbo’s establishing of the following passacaglia, before the anonymous ‘Brayle de Gran Duque’ offered energy and brilliance from all three players.
The earliest work in the programme, Diego Ortiz’s Recercada I, showed off the huge tonal differences possible in each instrument, the glooping lower end of the theorbo contrasting with its nasal upper register.
Elsewhere the guitar moved from percussive flamenco-like strumming to plucked counterpoint whilst the harpsichord occasionally exploited the quieter lute stop.
The three players let themselves go in an improvised piece in the second half: with eyes on each other not the music, we had an insight into how so much music-making happened in this period.
The players demonstrated subtlety and magnanimity throughout, each instrument finding its place to shine, with Aarón Zapico’s generally sparse chords and sensitive voicing allowing the quieter plucked strings to come through.
Finishing the programmed set with an explosive fandango by Scarlatti, the group was buoyed by rapturous applause to give two encores.
- Martin Scheuregger