The perfectly balanced and homogeneously blended sound of their consort was even more beautiful than we had expected…
Fontanella were fortunate to be given a grant by the Humphrey Richardson Taylor Trust in 2007, which enabled the ensemble to acquire a fantastic set of consort instruments by Adrian Brown. In 2011 our consort expanded with two new family members including a tiny soprano in E!
The ensemble’s magnificent consort consists of fifteen instruments, built as a set primarily in ‘fifths’ according to surviving evidence from renaissance instruments, cases and other source material. This sequence, often overlooked today, gives the great advantage that similar fingerings are used on each instrument, producing a fantastically homogeneous sound. Getting the right combination of instruments, in the right sizes and quantities, for our relatively large ensemble was a challenge for players and maker alike, but we are delighted with the results. Adrian was also very accommodating in creating key work for those of us with especially small hands! For those who are curious, our instruments are pitched at A – 466: Contrabass in F, Great basses in C (x 3), Bassets in G (x 3), Tenors in D (x3), Altos in G (x2) and A (x2), soprano in E.
Read more about Adrian’s instruments here.
Fontanella uses a huge range of instruments from the tiny Garklein (pitched an octave above the standard descant size in C, that’s two octaves above middle c!!) down to the huge seven foot contra bass (two octaves below the standard treble recorder in F). Fontanella’s baroque-style and modern instruments are made by a number of respected makers.
Our most recent purchase is a set of four square basses by the German company Herbert Paetzold, ranging from the small bass in F to the contrabass in C. We are enjoying exploring the remarkable sonority created by these instruments and in 2011 performed our first commission, Dinosaurs, created especially for us by Steve Marshall. More recently, we were delighted to premiere Tim Coker’s work for descant recorder and Paetzold quartet, at the Ardingly Arts Festival in 2014. View our performance of it in Andover here
The five members of the ensemble were astounding in their mastery of the ‘forest’ of instruments…”