Preview: The King's Consort, Wigmore Hall, London

'We've found some real rarities'
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The Independent Culture

"What I most like about the Wigmore," says Robert King, "is that the audience will trust us - both as to the quality of the performers we present, and the quality of the music." And the King's Consort's return to the venue will be with a programme that will demand exactly that sort of trust. "We all think we know Handel, but for this concert we've found some real rarities,' he says. 'We're doing two Roman motets and two seriously early works."`

Moreover, they will be performing 'The Judgment of Paris' by John Eccles, one of London's leading theatre composers in 1700. This was written as an entry to a competition set up by the poet William Congreve, in a bid to raise standards in theatre music: it didn't win, but it became an instant hit.

The quality of the musicians will not be in doubt. Rebecca Bottone - the daughter of ENO stalwart Bonaventura Bottone, and a rising star in her own right - is the guest soprano, and Crispian Steele-Perkins will play the trumpet, as he has done with the King's Consort for the past 20 years.

Indeed, the constancy of this ensemble is one of the wonders of the period-performance world - some members have been with the Consort since its inception. King founded the ensemble 25 years ago by roping in friends from Cambridge, plus some young London professionals. Their rise coincided with that of Hyperion Records, for whom they have recorded hundreds of hours of Purcell and Vivaldi. Their current success is now fuelled by film music.

"We're Hollywood's choir of choice at the moment - it's extraordinary," King observes in slight disbelief. "The Kingdom of Heaven, Chronicles of Narnia - Hollywood could pick anybody, but they keep coming to us." Why? "It's the sound they want. It's flexible, and we're very quick in the studio." None of the musicians are on contract, he adds. "But we did a loyalty survey a few years ago, and found ours was higher than that of some of the contract bands."

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