Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mėlomanie plays at Immanuel Highlands


The Immanuel Episcopal Church, Highlands has begun a Music at Immanuel program featuring a great fall calendar of performances starting with an evening of Mėlomanie. The program featured a world premiere by guitarist/composer Chris Braddock called Grease in the Groove which was a delightful mix of country music and jazzy sounds for mandolin, twelve-string guitar, harpsichord and cello. Doug McNames, cello, took Braddock’s brash bass line and ran with it, creating a fun and almost washtub effect while Tracy Richardson played a series of delicate scales and arpeggios on the harpsichord. Braddock played his mandolin part which he had made the lead voice dominating the trio. Then he switched to the twelve-string guitar against which he created a very high cello part which took over the dominant voice for the end of the piece — evocative of Scheherazade rather than the country style in which the piece began.

Two baroque pieces introduced each half of the program. The Paris Quartet No. 4 in B Minor, TWV 43: h2 featured Chris Braddock playing an additional continuo to Richardson’s harpsichord and the Concerto No. 3 in D Major by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier which featured Eve Friedman (baroque flute) and Priscilla Smith (baroque oboe). Both pieces were lively and light; not at all out of place with the contemporary pieces on the program.

Mėlomanie also presented excerpts of four pieces they had commissioned in the past decade and invited each composer to speak about his or her piece. Not only was it a treat to have the composers be present for the concert, but it was interesting to compare the acoustics in Immanuel to those of Grace Church.

Violinist Christof Richter
Chuck Holdeman said his Quarter note = 48 was written in 5/4 time to make sure there was no recognizable downbeat, but the impeccable coordination between flutist Kim Reighley and cellist Doug McNames made it seem more strictly laid out than he led us to believe. Ingrid Arauco’s Pavane opened with the harpsichord’s sparkling high register and melted into a fugal resolution picked up by the modern flute, gamba, cello and violin. Mark Hagerty’s Trois Rivières excerpt was very jazzy with a 5/8 meter creating a dance feel which he felt was influenced by his time spent in Brazil.

Flutist Kimberly Reighley

The two excerpts from Kile Smith’s The Nobility of Women were brilliantly played by his daughter Priscilla, for whom he wrote the piece. Her baroque oboe sound is so incredibly smooth that the listener might forget it is a double reed instrument – the baroque oboe being more temperamental even than its prima donna modern cousin. The Sarabande is slow and sad and the oboe voice pierces plumbs the darkness with its soulful sound and the Canarios, which featured all of the Mėlomanie players, was written in a traditional baroque style, yet it still evokes a very swinging and modern dance, especially when the oboe is playing long dotted rhythms over the other voices.

Mėlomanie will continue their residence at Grace Church on Washington Street in January.

See www.melomanie.org.
See www.immanuel-highlands.org.

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