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Corsham Festival: The Mandolinquents
2:46pm Tuesday 24th June 2008 in Leisure
If the word mandolin conjures up an image of a small pear-shaped 18th century stringed instrument, being played querulously beneath an Italian balcony you are only partly right.
The world and the mandolin have moved on.
The Mandolinquents are four seriously skilful musicians who play the fool as well as their instruments.
Chief jester is Simon Mayor, who is listed in the programme as a mandolin player, but he also plays violin and guitar and I suspect anything with strings on with which he can create a musical sound.
Hilary James, Richard Collins and Gerald Garcia complete the line-up, multi-instrumentalists all. Hilary sings as well as mastering the giant mandobass, with harmonious backing from the men.
Their concert was justifiably a sell-out.
Collins' first instrument is the five-string banjo, for which he takes a lot of stick from Mayor. But when Collins on banjo and Mayor on violin got together for touch of blue grass, it was no laughing matter.
The quartet slipped from classical ballet music into ragtime and from Tchaikovsky to Leroy Anderson's The Typewriter and a haunting interpretation of the traditional Scottish folk song Loch Lomond.
There was also delicate Chinese music on guitar and mandolin and a bit of Fred and Ginger with Irving Berlinís Cheek to Cheek.
And for an encore they had the audience joining in a heart-warming ditty about a spider.