Ensemble Marsyas - Handel: Apollo e Dafne - The Scotsman (Live Review)

The following evening stayed in Haddington, but fast-forwarded a century or so for Handel from Edinburgh-based Ensemble Marsyas under director Peter Whelan (JJJJJ), principal bassoon at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and an urgent, compelling director in front of his own period-instrument band. And rarely can musicians have looked so utterly absorbed in their music: there was a sense of barely restrained energy and enthusiasm in their propulsive Water Music, with instrumentalists dancing and swaying along to Whelan's bracing rhythms. They followed it with Handel's Apollo and Daphne, a mini-opera in all but name, with bass Callum Thorpe giving off just the right swagger and sneering sexuality as the predatory god, and soprano Mhairi Lawson floating effortless lines as his unwilling prey Daphne, but also snarling her refusal to give into his wishes. By Thorpe's tender, hushed conclusion, it felt like it had been a journey of transformation for both of them.

The Scotsman
12 September 2016