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Corsham Festival: Fiddlesticks
9:18am Tuesday 1st July 2008 in Leisure
Clever name, a fiddle and percussion, and who would think a violin would blend so well with a stage full of percussion. But it did. And, despite one punter storming out saying it was too loud (it was billed as ensemblebash!) it demonstrated forcibly the incredible colours of the violin and showed that, even with four percussionists, you can achieve texture and gentle emotion.
Violinist Madeleine Mitchell, well-known on the international concert stage, can attack like percussion and sustains the erotic, hypnotic rhythm generated by ensemblebash who take their inspiration from the music of West Africa.
It's not necessarily the sounds that ensemblebash draw from a myriad of percussion pieces, including up-turned plant pots tied up with rope, it's the urging, insatiable beat, loud or soft, that becomes the engine of the springboard that Mitchell exploits.
Her violin can be raw, persuasive, even mystical, but underpinning all is the relentless, restless, beat. I defy anyone not to start tapping something. It's nothing short of intoxicating.
And there's novelty, too: Some sounds that you would think could not come from a violin, a double bass on its back as a percussion piece, humour in their presentation and the need for fitness, there's a lot of chasing about to do.
Their finale on African drums was just stunning. It could have gone on all night for me. For me the highlight of an eclectic festival.
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