By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer | firstname.lastname@example.org
Two interesting Sunday programs completed the extended weekend of Bloomington Early Music Festival concerts, leaving this listener, and undoubtedly many others, gladly ready to wait for more of the same in the future.
A violin-fortepiano duo twosome
Chronologically, the musical bill of fare moved forward, closer to our days, on Sunday afternoon when the Duo Park-Kim (violinist Jessica Park and fortepianist Ji-Young Kim) offered a sanctuary-filling BLEMF audience in St. Thomas Lutheran Church a program of music by Schubert and Mozart.
Schubert was the women’s first object of attention, as they played his Violin Sonata in A Minor and transcriptions for violin of two of the composer’s songs, “Die Gebusche” (“The Bushes”) and “Nacht und Traume” (“Night and Dreams”).
The sonata is in pure Schubert form, with the expected moods and tempos included. He can surprise a listener, however, if just by following descriptions of movement titles. Take the A Minor’s opening Allegro moderato. The music is very much Allegro but not so much Moderato. “Whatever,” as they say these days. The sonata contains highly attractive music, and the visiting duo treated it with loyalty to Schubertian and period style. As played on Sunday, one could imagine hearing both it and the quietly spellbinding songs being performed at one of the composer’s intimate Schubertiades, very much in tune with the times.
Mozart’s A Major Violin Sonata, K.526, should be retitled Violin and Piano for the balanced attention the composer gives to both instruments. It is a joyous piece with a show-off closing Presto that the two musicians treated with proper and bravos-inducing ebullience.
And then, an orchestra
Under the direction and with the participation of two former BLEMF stars, violinist Ingrid Matthews and harpsichordist Byron Schenkman, the festival came to an auspicious end Sunday evening in Auer Hall, with a program of very different works by very different composers.
An orchestra of 21 members had been gathered to be used in shifting numbers to play music by composers well known and virtually unknown who worked in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The British Henry Purcell received early attention through the presentation of a suite of incidental music written for a 17th century theatrical production, “Abdelazer, or the Moor’s Revenge.” The string of airs and rondeaus and hornpipes and such was delightfully performed by an ensemble of 14 strings and harpsichord Byron Schenkman at the keyboard, he a fellow with smiling countenance and flashy finger work all evening. And to follow that Purcell gem, there came another, his Chacony in G Minor.
There had to be Bach, of course, on a festive Early Music/Historical Performance closing program. The directors Schenkman and Matthews chose the Brandenburg Concerto Number 5 in D Major, having asked flutist Colin St. Martin, violinist Clara Scholtes, violist Reynaldo Patino, and cellist Kevin Flynn to join them for what became felicitous music-making. A harpsichord cadenza, as unleashed by Schenkman, was incredible, ferociously speedy and absolutely precise, but the whole of the performance was nothing less than rewarding.
The post-intermission selections included a Baroque big-timer, Georg Philipp Telemann, but also a couple of composers about whom and their music far less is known, 17th century Italian contemporaries Camilla de Rossi and Evaristo Felice Dall’Abaco.
Telemann’s Concerto in G Major for Two Flutes, Bassoon, Strings, and Continuo gave flutists Colin St. Martin and Leela Breithaupt and bassoonist Kelsey Shilling ample chances to reveal their artistry once again in music of challenge and a most pleasant nature.
Camilla de Rossi’s Introduction and Sinfonia came from her oratorio “Il Sacrificio di Abramo,” one of four oratorios she left, all for solo voices and orchestra. What we heard required no voices, but her instrumental material, as niftily played on this closing concert, was attractive enough to make one want to hear more of the oratorio and other pieces she wrote. Distinguished lutenist Nigel North, violinists Matthews and Sarah Cranor, violist Jeffrey Smith, and cellist Christine Kyprianides (who in BLEMF’s pre-collapse years valiantly helped work to hold the festival together) collaborated in the distinctive reading of de Rossi’s music.
Sunday evening’s wind-up — given to the Veronese’s Dall’Abaco’s Concerto Grosso in D Major — brought an orchestral aggregate back to the stage, with, as soloists, violinist/director Matthews and Jessica Park (of the previously discussed Duo Park-Kim; hers was a busy day). Dall’Abaco’s Vivaldi-influenced concerto grosso packed a lyric punch and gave the ensemble, particularly the two soloists, a lovely vehicle in which to luxuriate.
Satisfying festival. The planners promise there’s more to come, but more about that later.