Bowerbird Ensemble: The Coal Man’s Musick Room
The Promethean, Adelaide, 2 March 2014

No kidding. His name was Thomas Britton, his dates 1654-1714. With the profits from his small coal business he set up The Coal Man’s Musick Club in his attic, attracting eminent musicians of the day to perform their own and other composers’ works.

Bowerbird Ensemble’s re-creation was inspired. Guests were greeted by Thomas (“Call me Tom”) in proper (cleaned up) gear. Initiator Brendan O’Donnell dazzled and charmed the assembled company with his virtuoso recorders in a concerto by Mr. Handel – he may drop by – and a sonata by Dr. Pepusch (gracing us with his presence).

Simone Slattery and her infinitely expressive violin his perfect match in most selections, notably Mr Bannister’s Air, teasing and tantalising (Oh those whispering cadences!) in Maestro Castrucci’s Ciaccona.

And what a beautiful bassoon! Jackie Hansen burbled discretely as continuo partner for Glenys March’s harpsichord and drew several bravos for more prominent patches.

Bethany Hill’s clear, clean soprano sang sweetly of love in The Wakeful Nightingale by Mr Weldon (also present) and Mr Reading’s Paradox, wherein her excellent diction elucidated the conflict between hate and love for the one lady.

The announcement of the sad demise of Mr Britton after a premonition called for a toast. We were restored to good cheer by a lovely sonata from Mr Loeillet, rumoured to be the subject of an addition by Bowerbird to his beautiful nest.

Elizabeth Silsbury, The Advertiser, 5 March 2014