Edinburgh Festival / Concerto Caledonia - Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture
The only excuse for putting on concerts of local music at the Edinburgh International Festival is that your performances are of absolutely guaranteed star quality. The second of the four Scottish programmes in this year's festival, which concentrated on music of the 17th century, threatened at first to fall foul of parochialism.

True, John Clerk of Penicuik was an original and inventive composer, but his two cantatas - the second of them heard here to better effect only a few weeks ago - sounded bumpy and uneasy, the singer Lynne Dawson and the chamber group Concerto Caledonia wobbling on the verge of calamity, despite their sweet-toned baroque instruments.

The day was saved by the male soprano Renald Laban and the lutenist Jakob Lindberg. Here was star quality: the singer's honeyed tone and easy coloratura made John Abell's short-winded cantatas sound like masterworks, and Lindberg, playing old Scottish lute solos, concealed his technical brilliance under a veil of courteous intimacy. There was one moment when these two came together in a brief French song by Abell: the composer's tiny lyric gift blossomed, and we had a glimpse of pure magic.

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