…the Division Lobby…made a wonderful sound, rooted in the jangling and strumming of lutes and harpsichords, mingled with strings and the soft sound of the wooden trumpet or cornetto…there was a crackle in the air which told you that…these players really were flying by the seat of their pants.
When the tenor Mark Tucker improvised a florid melody to a poem by Torquato Tasso over a strumming bass laced with exuberant counterpoints, it was touch and go whether they’d come out together. They did, but as a writer in 1614 observed of this sort of performance, lots of spicy clashes, or stravaganze, were produced along the way. It was thrilling. If only more “early music” could be like this.
- Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph
…the punningly-named Division Lobby ensemble was looking resolutely back, with some fascinating demonstrations of the largely lost art of improvisation. The basic message was that classical musicians should think like jazz players, whose chord-books are the modern equivalent of the ‘division’ books of 17th- century Italy.
A division, as practised by singers and lutenists, is the splitting-up of a single note into a convoluted and melismatic run: armed with her gigantic chitarrone, the diminutive Paula Chateauneuf led her fiddlers, cornettists, harpsichordists, and the brilliant tenor Mark Tucker, in a revelatory exploration of this wonderfully fertile technique. Back? Yes, but to the future.
- Michael Church, The Independent
Particularly delightful were Pavlo Beznosiuk and Caroline Balding, each goading the other on with increasingly florid passages – but always with smiles on their faces. Tenor Mark Tucker reminded us that improvisation was not solely the realm of instrumentalists with a florid ex tempore setting of verse by Bernardo Tasso to the romanesca…the free-for-all improvisation on the passamezzo antico which the ensemble created during the interval…was…adrenaline-fuelled live performance without a safety net.
- Tom Lydon, Early Music Today/Classical Music
The highlight of their concert was the instrumental Veni in hortum meum and tenor Mark Tucker’s improvised embellished falsobordone on a [Magnificat] framework by Giulio Cesare Gabucci, a notable feature of which was the powerfully declaimed text spoken over the instrumental alternatim verses. The many impressive individual performances included those by Paula Chateauneuf, her lutenist colleague Elizabeth Kenny and harpsichordist Giulia Nuti.
- Andrew Benson-Wilson, Early Music Review