PAPAGENA | Edinburgh, St Andrew’s & St George’s West

Papagena’s female voices are a stunning addition to the vocal music scene: finely honed voices and stimulating concerts of music you have never heard of but want to hear again. In St Andrew’s & St George’s West, Edinburgh on 8 February they traversed a wealth of worldwide music with voices of considerable bloom, enviable pitching, impeccable diction and a real sense of fun. Think a young, female, Hilliard Ensemble.

Moving Sephardic feast music was followed by visits to other unknown seams in the Basque and Estonian repertoire and an intensely moving Famine Song from Sudan (with audience participation in making the raindrops). Unusual folk songs included mouth music of enjoyable rhythmic complexity and tremendous humour in Libby Larsen’s Jack’s Valentine and Stephen Hatfield’s ‘Three ways to vacuum your house’.

Their considerable ability to combine rich texture and clarity came through in liturgy from the Armenian Orthodox and Hildegard of Bingen; precision and beauty of tone in the C15 There is no rose and in the setting of George Herbert’s The Flower by the very gifted Alec Roth.

A wide ranging concert in a beautiful venue on a sunny February afternoon and a feeling that this group really does have that combination of vocal focus, interest in discovering new music and sense of fun which you should search out – whatever your musical tastes – if they are remotely near to you. As the journey of Anonymous 4 comes to a close a baton of special musicianship and wide interest in music may be about to pass.

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