Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Concert By An Amsterdam Group

Old friends and musicking colleagues Mimi Mitchell (baroque violin) and Christina Edelen (harpsichord), both of Amsterdam, joined Noel Martin (baroque violin, residence unknown, but I think he lives in Houston UST-Houston faculty member and performer in numerous local orchestras) for a lively concert of programmatic music from the 17th and 18th centuries from several countries including Netherlands Italy, England and Germany. (That's from memory; forgive me if it's incomplete or incorrect.)

The concert was presented three times, twice at Rienzi yesterday (where I wasn't) and once at University of St. Thomas in the Cullen music performance space tonight (where I was). All three performers are quite virtuosic, and the literature they chose showed their technical skills and music-making abilities to good advantage. The only piece on the concert that you are probably familiar with is Corelli's Christmas Concerto, still a great set of tunes even after years of (let's face it) abuse by players who might not have understood Corelli's music as well as these three.

Baroque Violin of Modern
Make, Dmitry Badiarov
Note Short Fingerboard,
Lower Bridge, Flatter Pegbox,
Built for Gut Strings,
Lower Tension, No Chin-rest
If anyone needed it, the performance was a reminder that in that period an Italian concerto of a certain construction is typically performed by an orchestra with a concertino (the concertizing strings, playing prominent, soloistic parts) and a ripieno (the rest of the band, maybe musicians drawn from household staff and of less virtuosic ability, playing accompanying parts)... but can be played to equally good effect by covering the three parts with only three or four instruments in the hands of sufficiently virtuosic performers. This last approach is what we heard tonight.

Forgive me if I brag on my friends/colleagues, but despite my aching foot, my evening was probably more fun than your evening!

NOTE: I know nothing of the violin-maker who made the instrument depicted above right, but his photo (found on Google Images) is a good example of the differences between baroque and modern violins.

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