Sunday, March 30, 2008

An Evening in Versailles

It could argued that there never was such a thing as a "harpsichord concert." Recitals for the masses probably didn't happen. Rather, the harpsichord (and most solo instruments, other than the organ) was an instrument of the salon. There is no doubt that the best way to hear the harpsichord is in a salon environment.

SDEMS board members Laurent Planchon and Kemer Thomson have been producing solo harpsichord events for several years now, most frequently in a wonderful private home already filled with antique instruments. The last concert for this season will return to that favored venue, with the return of French harpsichordist Laurent Stewart.

Noted for his fiery, sensitive and passionate interpretations of music of the Grand Siècle, acclaimed French harpsichordist Laurent Stewart returns to San Diego to conclude the season with a recital of pieces by the great 'musicians to the King' Louis XIV Jean-Henry D’Anglebert, Louis Marchand and Antoine Forqueray and rarely heard Rameau’s ‘pieces de clavecin en concert’.

Friday, April 11, 7.30pm
Private residence in Rancho Santa Fe
Suggested donation $20 general/$10 students

For more information
To reserve seats, send email to Kemer Thomson or call him at 619-840-3416.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

April 20: buy your tea ticket on line

We've just added a button to our website to enable you to purchase your tea ticket on line. Go to , click on "Tickets" to the left of your screen, and you will be taken straight there.
(Why not buy a ticket for next week's Ensemble Rebel concert while you're at it? There is a wonderful snippet of video on our home page which gives you a sneak preview of the treats in store. All this, and recorder/flute virtuoso Mathias Maute as well . . .)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monthly Musicmakers

Come to the San Diego Early Music Society's Monthly Musicmakers

Free and open to all!

On the fourth Saturday of the month, all interested musicians are invited to come sing and play. For our meeting, we will gather at the ClairemontCommunity Center from 1:00 until 5:00 on Saturday , March 22.

Come and bring any music you would like to share, as well as your singing voices, viols, lutes, recorders, sackbuts, jaw harps, crumhorns, or anything else you can use to make some music! This is free of charge to everyone. Email your friends! Don't email your enemies!

Contact Steve Hendricks at 619-459-4522 or for more information.

The Clairemont Community Center is located at

4731 Clairemont Drive at Lakehurst Avenue
(In the ClairemontTownSquareShopping Center)
San Diego, CA 92117-2704
Phone: (858) 581-4111

View Larger Map

Monday, March 17, 2008

March Reviews

I have a personal blog, Midlife Music Musings, that includes a number of recent CD reviews. Here's a summary of some of the latest that relate to early music:
  • Mozart Sonatas & Rondos
    Marcia Hadjimarkos, Fortepiano
    Avie, AV 2138 (2007)
    Her performances are full of life and creativity, with her own distinctive personality stamped on them. The sound of this instrument is glorious: this is the fortepiano I would want, if I could afford one of Clarke's instruments.
  • Mondonville: Pieces for Harpsichord and Voice or Violin; Sonata No. 4
    Shannon Mercer, soprano and Luc Beauséjour, Harpsichord
    Analekta AN 2 9920
    Opus 5 is really beautiful music, in fact, memorable music. The longest piece, Protector meus, is darkly dramatic, with inventive harmonic twists that make one sit up and pay attention.
  • Johann Jacob Froberger: Complete Fantasias - Complete Canzonas - Toccatas
    Bob van Asperen, Cipri Organ of S. Martino, Balogna (1556)
    Aeolus AE-10501 (2006)
    However, it seems that van Asperen is often imprecise in his meter and makes little use of articulation. As a result, I often find it difficult to follow the voices, even with score in hand.
  • The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I
    Luc Beauséjour, Harpsichord
    Naxos 8.557625-26 (2007)
    Beauséjour's approach is very uncomplicated and tempi are on the brisk side: it is a very "pure" reading. For those who find Hantaï excessive, this might have a lot of appeal.
  • C.P.E. Bach Württemberg Sonatas
    Miklós Spányi, Clavichord
    BIS-CD-1424 (2007)
    Volume 17 of the complete solo keyboard works: one of the best, to-date.
  • Mr. Abel's Fine Airs
    Susanne Heinrich, viola da gamba
    Hyperion CDA67628 (2007)
    This has turned out to be a marvelous recording on all three fronts: the music is memorable, the sound is top notch, and the performance has just the right combination of heartfelt simplicity that seems to live up to Abel's reputation. I very much like Heinrich's warm and enthusiastic, yet sensible approach.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

April 20: Tea and Music

This year we are look for new ways to branch out. You might have noticed the fabulous venue for the February El Mundo concert: the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala. I'm sorry I missed a great concert; people I talked to loved both the venue itself and the change of location.

We are trying out another new idea on April 20th: a traditional English-style afternoon tea, followed by a "command performance" by John Holloway, Jaap ter Linden, and Lars Ulrik Mortensen. This renown trio are performing a program titled “Madcap, Red Priest, and Angel" in La Jolla the evening before. The recital following the tea (a rather elaborate affair itself) will to a much more intimate audience. This is being held at the Westgate Hotel in downtown San Diego. I checked out this venue last month: the hotel, which is located behind the Civic Center and nearby Horton Plaza, is elegant in an appropriately baroque way.

The $65 question is: will people come downtown on a Sunday afternoon and spend over three times our usual ticket price to enjoy a concert in a more upscale and intimate environment? Will we get a different audience? The SDEMS board discussed this at length and we finally voted in favor, in agreement that to reach new audiences, we need to try new things. As for myself, it sounds like a lot of fun: a great excuse to dress up, drive downtown, and feel a bit like the rich-and-famous.

Sunday, April 20, 2008
Westgate Hotel
1055 Second Avenue • San Diego, CA 92101
Tea from 2:30pm, onwards • Concert at 4:00pm
Information: 619-226-4266
$65 per person

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Transformation of Media

Welcome to the first entry for the San Diego Early Music Society's new blog! Like music organizations around the World, SDEMS is discovering that the Internet provides an ideal medium for getting the word out—a better way that saves not only in wasted paper, but in the cost of mailing newsletters that are often merely glanced at before seeing the trash heap! The ones and zeros of the Digital Age are replacing paper media everywhere, redefining the venerable newspaper and magazine. And so, it is our intent to replace our newsletter with this blog.

Actually, moving to the blog format is a natural progression. We retired the newsletter in its paper form last year; instead, we posted PDF versions of the newsletter on our web site. This really was redundant in the truest sense of the word: posting one electronic digest on another. Furthermore, newsletters take a great deal of work to create, yet circumstantial evidence suggests that they are infrequently read. Blogs encourage us to produce a steady stream of smaller articles, lessening the editorial burden, and also encourage readers to give us feedback. Rather than redundantly overlaying our excellent web site, which can be counted on to provide up-to-date information about the organization and upcoming programs, the blog format is ideally suited to providing a different perspective: reviews, commentary, observations, and experiences that we feel may be of interest to the local early music community. Ultimately, we hope that this new medium will help foster interest, grow the community, and contribute to the success of our remarkable organization.

Kemer Thomson