Friday, October 5, 2012

Time travel with Brandywine Baroque

Karen Flint, the artistic director of Brandywine Baroque goes to great lengths to create an authentic program with period instruments in a room small enough to hear baroque instruments, yet large enough to hold about one hundred people. That alone is reason to attend a concert at the Barn at Flintwoods.

Martin Davids and Edwin Huizinga, violins in rehearsal

The minute you sit down, you have the feeling you have travelled in time back to the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is impossible to resist looking at the brilliant colors and detail on the lid, soundboard and edge of the virginal which was the star of the concert. The virginal is actually a one-year-old reproduction by John Phillips, but that does not in any way dilute the intense feeling that you have travelled back in time.

When Ms. Flint started the concert with a solo piece from Elizabeth Rogers’ Virginal Book published in 1657, I was transported to another era. The rich tones and astounding depth of sound from the tiny decorative keyboard instrument were a great surprise. Ms. Flint has an ease of mastery and feel for the keyboard.

The two gamba players, John Mark Rozendaal and Donna Fournier, two violinists playing viol parts, Martin Davids and Edwin Huizinga played both chamber pieces - some of which were wildly complex. A fantasia in c minor by William Lawes was an extremely complex contrapuntal piece which had eccentrically interpolated rhythms.

Donna Fournier and John Mark Rozendaal gambas

Laura Heimes, soprano and Tony Boutté, tenor sing baroque styles with such purity and clarity and have such technical mastery of the style that they are able to really portray a song with gesture, humor and grace. Ms. Heimes’ singing is always delightful, but when she sings baroque music, her vocal line is pure and simple with minimal vibrato and magical ease on the high notes.

Each of the performers seemed to exude a playfulness and joy in the music that made the entire concert a pleasure. The physical expressions of all the players and singers and their ability to truly touch another style and time made this a moving experience. And the program itself was so beautifully written and researched by Ms. Flint that it became a great ready reference tool for those of us who did not know about the instruments.

After the concert, Ms. Flint was more than ready to show us the instrument and talk about the exquisite illustrations and decorations and where and how it was made.

When concerts are that thoroughly prepared, they change your entire perspective on music.


No comments:

Post a Comment