Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The New York Times reviews Ensemble 415

Ensemble 415 will perform in San Diego on Friday Oct. 15, but as part of their US tour, they first stopped in New York at the Frick Collection. Allan Kozinn of the New York Times attended this concert, and you can read his review here. Apparently he seemed to have quite liked it ! What puzzled me however is that he would qualify the Albinoni sonatas on the program as merely 'diverting'. Judging from the recent and absolutely stunning recording that Ensemble 415 made of these sonatas, they are probably among the best pieces Albinoni ever wrote and far more that just 'diverting'. We will just have to find out for ourselves on Friday...
As a reminder, the concert will start at 8pm at the Neurosciences Institute, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Dr. For more details, refer to

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Windsor Hills Consort April 21st

Windsor Hills Consort will perform baroque music–Telemann and Handel–on Wednesday, April 21, 7:30 p.m., in Room 801 at the School fo Arts and Communication of Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

Admission is free, but there may a parking fee for lot O.

Performers are Cathe Sobke, recorders and baroque guitar; Elizabeth Rose, viols; Andrew Peterson, harpsichord, and Taylor Smith, bass viola da gamba. For more information, call Elizabeth at 610-466-3091.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Canadian month

We have a Canadian month ahead of us: this Friday, February 5th, our friends of the La Jolla Music Society are presenting Tafelmusik in a program titled “The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres” and exactly one month later, on Friday March 5th, we will be presenting two of the most famous baroque Canadian singers, soprano Suzie Leblanc and countertenor Daniel Taylor accompanied by yet another excellent Canadian baroque orchestra, the Theatre of Early Music in a program of duets (and solos) by Monteverdi, Haendel and others.

It looks like the early music scene is thriving in Canada, and even more especially in Quebec. We already had a very good example of it two years ago with the ensemble Arion and countertenor Matthew White, but it is by far not the end of it. Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are hosting several other ensembles and countless musicians some of whom we also had the pleasure to present in the past.

We will provide more details about our exciting March 5th concert on this blog soon (some of these details are actually already on our website, including a couple of audio excerpts) but in the meantime don’t get these plane tickets and enjoy Canada in February with San Diegan weather.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Consort or Crossover?

"Early music" covers a lot of historical and stylistic ground, and this is bound to generate some friction between self-labled aficionados. Within that group there are those who have little or no interest in anything later than the 15th century, while I personally find such repertoire incapable of keeping me focused for an entire program – I'm more of a 17th and 18th century kind of guy. Indeed, I find much of the so-called Renaissance period to be a little "iffy" – if not downright stuffy – and have tended to cringe and avoid any group that proclaims itself a "consort."

Fortunately for me, I didn't let that get in the way of attending last night's presentation by the Baltimore Consort. The program "Adew Dundee" might have been viewed as a Scottish Renaissance love fest, complete with recorders, crumhorns, and viols, but it was really much more eclectic and should be viewed as "crossover": music and instruments from the period, but arranged and combined in an imaginative way that transcends limited historical practice. In other words, it was not academic, most definitely not stuffy, and indeed a lot of fun. This was a program that might have been based on "early music," but which would appeal to anyone looking for just plain tuneful and toe-tapping music.

Programming was carefully staged and the arrangements made maximum use of the available timbres, keeping the sound fresh. Well-known lutenist Ronn McFarlane wasn't shy about strumming his lute like a guitar, and his nylon-strung instrument was nicely contrasted with the twangy metal cittern played by Marc Cudek. I might add that the lute was very tastefully amplified, a reasonable concession to acoustics, but one that might annoy a purist. One fine moment of theatrics included dancing crumhorns, played by a very animated Mindy Rosenfeld and Larry Lipkis.

So, does the label "crossover" somehow cheapen the music? I hope not: Jordi Savall, Rolf Lislevand, Skip Sempé, and others are effectively introducing early music to those who might otherwise turn up their noses at it. I believe serious music can still be serious fun.