Review: Medieval music teased the ear and wrung the heart

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Celebrating Magna Carta, Leighton Buzzard Music Club welcomed a different sort of music with the arrival of Joglaresa, and the change of style was better suited to a different venue.

Sadly, the well-known, mediaeval heating system of St Barnabas’s Church, Linslade, was in one of its grumpier moods for what proved nevertheless to be an exhilarating evening of medieval music on Saturday, October 17.

This is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, and the concert Joglaresa gave reflected that period when, if you were ruling class, you were still a Norman speaking French; if you were a cleric you spoke Latin and if you were a peasant you spoke an English a century older than Chaucer’s.

If you had gone on Crusade you - or your accompanying serfs - might well have picked up the rhythms and cadences of the Arabic songs heard there. The evening’s entertainment contained all these things crafted into songs about, inter alia, what a rotten activity crusading is, Robin of Sherwood, Marion (and her other boyfriend), the seasons, the state of the roads, greedy barons and how beastly it is to be poor.

The rhythms were delicious; the melodies and harmonies played and sung teased the ear in a more complex way than one might perhaps expect. And, conversely, the simpler laments just wrung the heart.

After the interval performers and audience demurred at returning to the chilly church and we all made ourselves comfortable in the modern hall. Smiles all round. The gut-stringed instruments were particularly grateful.

Judi Moore