|Violinists Daniela Pierson and Christof Richter. Photo by Tim Bayard.|
Thursday, February 9, 2017
By Christine Facciolo
The ensemble welcomed Daniela Pierson, principal violist with Philadelphia’s Tempesta di Mare and conductor of that city’s Musicopia String Orchestra. In addition, she has performed on violin or viola with many early music groups including New Society, New York Collegium and Washington Cathedral Baroque Orchestra.
Pierson teamed with Melomanie resident violinist Christof Richter to perform selections from Bela Bartok’s 44 Duos for 2 Violins, which were interspersed throughout the program. Although the composer never intended these pedagogical exercises to be played in concert, these fine artists performed with a style and accuracy that helped to reveal composer’s limitless imagination and his ability to write in the historic styles of Eastern and Central European ethnic groups.
Pierson said the duo chose to perform the selections on Baroque violins rather than modern instruments because, as she explained in an interview during the concert, that’s probably the way the composer heard the original folk melodies.
Pierson and Richter also delivered an outstanding and refined interpretation of Les Folies d’Espagne by the Italian Jean-Pierre Guignon, who brought that country’s musical style to Paris via the famed Concert Spirituel.
Pierson and Richter were joined by Tracy Richardson on harpsichord and gambist Donna Fournier in a performance of Archangelo Corelli’s Sonata de Chiese in A Major, the last of the set of twelve published as Op. 3 in 1689. Though modest, the music of this Italian composer-violinist was key to the development of the modern genres of sonata and concerto, in establishing the preeminence of the violin and in the coalescing of modern tonality and functional harmony.
Pierson and Richter engaged in a lovely duet in thirds during the second movement. Fournier provided heroic support, confidently executing demanding semiquavers. The piece concluded with three short Allegros, the last of which an attractive fugue in gigue form.
By far, the lengthiest work on the program belonged to Couperin’s well-known La Piemontoise, the fourth Ordre from Les Nations, his masterful dictum on the merger of the French and Italian styles. The concert opened with the Italianate sonata of the ordre and closed with its elaborate French dance suite. Mélomanie executed the ornamentation crisply and with ease, and did a beautiful job with Couperin’s harmonic color.
Just a Regular Child for flute and harpsichord by organist/conductor David Schelat added a charming levity to the program. Schelat introduced the work by explaining how he took inspiration from growing up as a regular kid in a regular home in a regular town in Ohio. The work consisted of three movements. “Rough and Tumble” and “Full of the Old Nick” conjure up the delightful — and sometimes misguided — energy of a very active and curious child while the loping melody of “Dreaming” catches him in his quieter moments.
Schelat wrote to flutist Kimberly Reighley’s amazing virtuosity, and she did not disappoint. Reighley executed the first and last movements with a pearly lightness and purity of tone while rendering a gauzy quality to the middle movement. Richardson supplied the contemporary harmonies which gave the work a mischievous quality.
Monday, May 4, 2015
|Composer Larry Nelson (left) talks about his piece, Moonbow.|
Christine holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music and continues to apply her voice to all genres of music. An arts lover since childhood, she currently works as a freelance writer.
Mélomanie capped its season with one of its most eclectic programs to date. Sunday’s concert treated its audience to a Delaware premiere, a fiery Latin tango and several interesting representatives of the Baroque era.
Moonbow, the second premiere of the season, is a commission from Larry Nelson, a colleague of Mélomanie flautist Kimberly Reighley at West Chester University. In case you’re wondering, a moonbow is a rainbow produced by light reflected off the surface of the moon (rather than from direct sunlight) refracting off moisture in the air. The subject matter fits nicely with Nelson’s fascination with timbre, a motivating factor in his work.
The piece consists of 13 sections, each flowing into the next and exhibiting a wide variety of musical styles. There’s a blues chorus, a pensive “cello float” and a very un-Bach-like contrapuntal section requiring each instrument’s participation.
It was pleasing to hear Richardson’s harpsichord step out from its usual supporting role. One section — Angelic over vamp I and II — had the instrument chopping chords that were tonally distinct from the rest of the ensemble. Richardson also concluded the piece, playing in gospel style.
The piece is a demanding one, and each member of the ensemble contributed a strong performance.
Argentina for flute, violin and cello by Christopher Caliendo offered a stark contrast to the introspective quality of Moonbow. Once again, Caliendo proves he knows how to write for the flute. Reighley’s fiery playing carried the piece as it got support from a punchy accompaniment of Latin rhythms provided by violinist Christof Richter and cellist Douglas McNames.
The Baroque was well-represented with works by Boismortier, Telemann and Vivaldi. The participation of guest artist violinist Daniela Pierson allowed the ensemble to program works it would not normally have been able to perform.
|Guest violinist Daniela Pierson (right) performs with Mélomanie.|
Violinists Richter and Pierson teamed up for Telemann’s Gulliver Suite, another piece written for amateur musicians. Swift’s satire gave Telemann the idea for a programmatic dance suite, each of whose movements recalls Swift’s characters with musical gestures. Richter and Pierson provided a nice interplay in the fifth and final dance — a loure —which contrasted the civilized Houyhnhnms (Richter) with the untamed Yahoos (Pierson).
The concert closed with a performance of Vivaldi’s Sonata XII in D Minor (Folia), which is actually a set of 20 variations on “La folia,” a musical theme dating back to the 15th Century. Like other composers, Vivaldi sought to emulate Corelli’s version as evidenced by his choice of virtuosic flourishes. Vivaldi takes advantage of the extra violin — provided by Pierson — to engage in imitative play.