By Christine Facciolo
Mélomanie, the critically acclaimed ensemble known for its provocative pairings of early and contemporary works, capped off its 2016-17 season with a program tilted a bit more toward the contemporary than usual.
Joining regulars Kimberly Reighley, flute; Christof Richter, violin; Donna Fournier, viola da gamba; and Tracy Richardson, harpsichord were guest artists Naomi Gray, cello and Joshua Kovach, clarinet.
|Mélomanie performs at The Delaware Contemporary near the Wilmington Waterfront. |
Photo by Tim Bayard.
Mélomanie also welcomed flutist/composer Bonnie McAlvin whose work Sandstone Peak received its World Premiere at this concert. McAlvin explained how her fascination with mountains — in this case the highest peak of the Santa Monica Mountains — inspired the composition. The work is in four movements: Illusion, Conversation, Throne of Sand and Everywhere at Once, throwing a nod to Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
McAlvin is a clever composer who skillfully adapts the serial technique to tell a story of illusion, erosion and feeling exposed. Throughout the composition, the row becomes dismantled and recombined reappearing in each movement in various guises and instrumental textures. The effect is one of fantasy and vulnerability.
Gray and Kovach combined their talents to perform Private Games by Israeli composer Shulamit Ran and Night Music by Parisian Nicolas Bacri. The former is a brief, jagged work full of disjointed gestures that somehow manages to convey a lyrical underpinning. The duo — both as an entity and as individuals — tossed off the fiendishly difficult passages with grace and ease. They convincingly brought out the chill in Night Music, a non-lyrical piece that glumly muses suggestions of inimical fate.
Richardson, Reighley and Kovach collaborated in a charming performance of the Sonatine en Trio, Op. 85 by Florent Schmitt, the most important French composer you probably never heard of, according to self-styled Schmitt expert Phillip Nones, who offered his thoughts on the composer and the work.
Schmitt (1870-1958) had no affinity for atonality or neo-classicism. Instead, he composed lushly lyrical music bursting with a profusion of ideas. Nones noted that this particular work has also been scored for flute, clarinet and piano as well as violin, cello and piano. But the musicians noted, in a post-concert discussion, that the harpsichord gave the work a lighter, brighter tone.
The flute and clarinet combined to produce another interesting aural feature. At times they seemed to blend so thoroughly that resulting sound was neither that of flute nor that of clarinet but a seemingly altogether different instrument with a sound all its own.
Vittorio Rieti’s Variations for Flute, Clarinet, Violin and Cello on When From My Love by John Bartlet was written in 1964 and dedicated to the memory of composer Paul Hindemith. This was a charming performance of this delightful little work consisting of nine variations and a code. It was an apropos selection for a Mélomanie program, as it combined the baroque with the contemporary.
The musicians of Mélomanie gave a nod to the Baroque with a performance of Marin Marais’ Suite 6 n C minor (from Pieces en Trio 1692) which preceded the two halves of the program.
The ensemble’s final performance for the 2016-17 season will be a special Mother’s Day Brunch and Concert on Sunday, May 14. Tickets are available at www.melomanie.org.