The eminent, not to mention polemical, American musicologist Richard Taruskin has been known to refer to contemporary performances of early music as the new-old music played in old-new ways, in an allusion to the generally spurious claims of the performers to historical authenticity.
This is not a jibe that would bother Scottish period instrument group Concerto Caledonia, who make no pretence about attempting to recreate the historical intentions of a now-defunct age in their groundbreaking performances and who appeared in Greyfriars Kirk with their baroque set-up instruments amplified and with an electric piano sitting beside the harpsichord at the back of the stage.
The concert, entitled Spring Any Day Now after the whimsical little Fred Frith piece with which it opened, defied any kind of simple classification. It isn't often you find Burns songs sharing the programme with Frank Zappa, Finnish fiddle music, Astor Piazzolla and Thomas Morley. This was an eclectic mixture of music, one that would not doubt have had some purists running for cover, but it was certainly neither stuffy nor worthy, as so many forays into unknown musical territories almost inevitably end up being. Instead, it was great fun, at times resembling nothing so much as a good jamming session among friends, albeit one on period instruments.
Buccaneering Concerto Caledonia director David McGuinness, playing keyboards, was well matched by flamboyant American fiddler/baroque violinist David Greenberg and along with sisters Katherine and Alison McGillivray on viola and cello, they energetically threw themselves into a concert that crossed every kind of musical boundary. Replacing an indisposed Lisa Milne, soprano Mhairi Lawson joined the players for some deceptively simple and lovely arrangements of a variety of old songs, from laments by Burns to altogether happier pieces.