Monday, 22 December 2008

Bring on the Bagpipes! - Corvus Corax

It's the week before Christmas. What better time then to go to church and listen to mediaeval music chanted in Latin by guys dressed in robes? Hmm, and with six bagpipe players, gargantuan drums, lots of luting, and squeeky pipes please.

Let it be so!

Tonight we went to see Corvus Corax perform their reconstruction of profane mediaval music at the Evangelisch Passionskirche on Marheinekeplatz. I'm not sure Martin Luther had in mind places of Christian worship being given over to a band of bizzarely dressed and sweaty tattooed men led by a guy named Teufel (Devil), but never have I seen a church congregation so happy-clappy (and stompy-jumpy). Cliff Richard should be so happy for this reception. The audience seemed an eclectic mixture of young musicology students checking out the authenticity, puzzled looking goths, beardy middle-aged Womad types, and people dressed as if they were on their way to the Crusades; the CC groupies I guess. And us; we're totally normal of course.

As a spectacle it works perfectly, and audience and performers interact as one in buying into a mediaeval travelling musician folk mystery-play kind of thing. Only a few fire-eaters, tumbling dwarfs, and people on stilts seem to be missing. But then there are only so many notes you can get out of a bagpipe or chanter whilst the drum-beats repeat the same beat and the harmonics reach again the diabolical thirds, and after a while each set-piece starts to sound like the last. We left them dancing in the aisles and hummed the latest hit from the thirteenth century on our way to the S-Bahn.

Here's a photo of Teufel I snapped just before my camera was confiscated by the security monks:

1 comment:

  1. I bought a Corvus Corax cd from Virgin (Brent Cross, London) years ago which looked as if it had been sneaked onto the shelves by a well-wisher: shrink-wrapped but no bar-code, and very cheap, its price label in a different style from the rest of the merchandise. A small subversion of the megastore to spread unapproved information..?

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