By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer | firstname.lastname@example.org
A pair of satisfying Sunday concerts wrapped up a four-day Bloomington Early Music Festival weekend. The high quality of music-making and what seemed repeatedly enthusiastic audience response gave one hope that the renewed festival popularly referred to as BLEMF will once again become something to look forward to at the end of future Bloomington Mays.
A Georg Philipp Telemann Feast - [Check out the Photos Here]
Sunday afternoon’s concert in Auer Hall remembered the late Washington McClain, a virtuoso baroque oboist who came to teach with great success at IU’s Jacobs School, and honored retired Michael McCraw, an equally gifted bassoonist who served influentially as director of the Early Music Institute.
The program ended with recordings that featured the two: McCraw and colleagues in Telemann’s Sonatina Quinta in A Minor and both of them in the composer’s Partita Number 2 in G-Major. Listening served to remind one of how special were their talents.
Earlier, four musicians who knew them as colleagues or students paid their respects with more Telemann compositions. Eva Legene, the remarkable recorder artist who taught at the Jacobs School until her retirement in 2009, returned to pay her respects with a top-of-the-line performance of Telemann’s Sonata in D-Minor for recorder and basso continuo, the latter supplied at the harpsichord by Corey Jamason, a distinguished alum now at the San Francisco Conservatory where he is the school’s Distinguished Chair in Historical Performance.
Jamason — along with Kathryn Montoya, teacher of baroque oboe and recorder at the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of North Texas, and Keith Collins, baroque and classical bassoonist who teaches at Jacobs and North Texas — contributed a reading of the Sonata in E-Flat Major for oboe, obbligato harpsichord, and continuo. Montoya and Legene teamed for the Sonata in G-Major for two recorders. And all four musicians took on the C-Major Trio Sonata for oboe, recorder, and basso continuo.
One heard a lot of Telemann. That was a bonus.
Honors for Stanley Ritchie - [Check out the Photos Here]
Violinist Ritchie, who encouraged his Early Music Institute students in the early 1990s to pursue their dream of establishing a festival, has been BLEMF’s most avid supporter and participant. This year, he continued to back festival revival efforts as a member of the Bloomington Early Music Board.
He kept his fiddle at home, however, and chose to listen as an audience member. Having just recently turned 80, his students and friends decided to honor him with “An Evening in Celebration of Stanley Ritchie” concert to conclude this year’s festival. He came to Auer Hall Sunday night to hear it.
What he didn’t know was that he would be given an honor from the city. Mayor Mark Kruzan declared May 24, 2015, Stanley Ritchie Day in Bloomington. Miah Michaelsen, the mayor’s assistant economic development director for the arts, came to deliver the declaration and to read a long list of Ritchie achievements for which this honor was bestowed.
But, of course, there also was music, quite a bit of it, all performed by long-standing colleagues, friends, and former students. Violinists Christopher Verrette, Janelle Davis, and Martha Perry, cellist Shelley Taylor, and harpsichordist Eunji Lee played Henry Purcell’s “Fantasy upon a Ground.” Eva Legene added some more Telemann, with not a recorder note out of place in the Fantasia Number 9 in E-Major. Elisabeth Wright was all grace and elegance at the harpsichord as she played Suite II in D Minor from Louis Marchand’s “Pieces de Clavecin.”
She was joined by Leela Breithaupt on traverso (flute), violinist Verrette, and violist da Gamba Erica Rubis for Jean-Marie Leclair’s “Deuxieme recreation de musique d’une execution facile;” they made an excellent, unified quartet. An orchestra of a dozen or just over played some more Purcell, the exquisite Suite from “The Fairy Queen.” The remarkable Marilyn Keiser came along for Handel’s Concerto for Organ and Orchestra; she played not the big Auer organ but a rolled-on little one and made it sound like far more of an instrument than it is.
Finally, Christopher Verrette took the solo spot for Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 3, Number 9. He was terrific, offering a performance worthy of bringing BLEMF 2015 to a close.