CONCERT REVIEW: The Crescendo Period Instrument Orchestra is hosting an early music party on October 29
The Crescendo Period Instrument Orchestra performed a program of famous Baroque solo concertos in Saint James Place on Friday, October 29. Photo: David Noel Edwards
GREATER BARRINGTON – The early music group Crescendo is best known for its interpretations of early choral music. But when indoor singing is a risk to public health, the founding artistic director of the ensemble, Christine Gevert, does not skip a beat. She knows the best period instrument players in the North East well and knows how to put together a satisfying program of purely instrumental early music. This is what she did for the group’s appearance in Saint James Place on Friday, October 29, when the Crescendo Period Instrument Orchestra performed a program of famous baroque solo concertos from Rome, Bologna, Venice. and London.
The group lineup on Friday was as follows: Chris Belluscio, natural trumpet; Brian Kanner, natural trumpet; Jeremy T. Rhizor, violin; Edson Scheid, violin; JÃ¶rg-Michael Schwarz, violin; Job Salazar Fonseca, violin; Mark Bailey, viola; David Bakamjian, cello; Julianne Russell, double bass; Hideki Yamaya, mandolin and theorbo; Christine Gevert, organ, harpsichord and conductor.
The easiest way to assess the abilities of an early music ensemble is to simply listen. But if you can’t do that, there is another way, which is to consider the professional reputation of each player and the known caliber of their musicality. Easy! If you click on the links above, you will discover entire musical worlds that you never knew existed. You will get a complete tutorial on how to build the Baroque violin by Schwarz. You will discover the original idea of ââthe violinist Rhizor, the Academy of Sacred Drama. You will discover the American Baroque Orchestra thanks to its founder and director, the violist Bailey. The point is, all of these musicians are esteemed leaders in the early music world, and when they come together they are a star group.
Antonio Vivaldi dominated the first half of Friday’s program, with a sonata and two concertos, the first of which, Concerto in C major RV 537 for two trumpets, strings and basso continuo, was performed in memory of John Belluscio, the trumpeter. Chris Belluscio father. The second concerto was in C major, RV 425 for mandolin, strings and basso continuo, and the sonata was RV 43 op. 14 n Â° 3 in A minor for cello and basso continuo. Then follows the Sinfonia at 3 for two violins and basso continuo by Allessando Stradella. (All of these wobbly catalog numbers are included so you can easily find the parts on YouTube.)
Gevert’s schedule was well paced, with the most exciting pieces coming at the end of the second half. It’s not very unusual, but the funny thing is that some of the evening’s most demanding tracks turned out to be the strongest of all, which would make sense if it got the lion’s share of the rehearsal time. In any case, the whole group was better than ever in the last two pieces, which is fitting, because the composers were too. When they arrived at George Frideric Handel’s Concerto in F major HWV 293 (Op. 4/5) for organ, strings and basso continuo, the pleasure increased a notch, as Handel’s harmonic writing on this piece is a cut above. The program ended with the Concerto in C major by Francesco Onofrio Manfredini for two trumpets, strings and basso continuo. The band really nailed this one, and the whole audience confirmed it as they stood up.
Towards the end of the first half of the program, Gevert interrupted the concert to explain that trumpeter Chris Belluscio, due to an injury, was not in shape for the most demanding piece (for a trumpeter) of the program, and therefore the band would jump on it (to be reimbursed in free streaming on Crescendo’s website). It turned out that Belluscio was in such bad shape that he was unable to perform with the band in Lakeville the following night. (Fortunately, the injury wasn’t life threatening and he was back in the saddle after a few days.)
This little bump in the road tells you something about the difficulty of playing baroque instruments compared to modern ones. It takes superhuman strength and control to play a trumpet without a valve badly. To play it well, you need a lifetime specialization. And to play it while being hurt, you need something like heroism. Most orchestral trumpeters will make you look weirdly dirty if you suggest they switch to a trumpet without a valve. It doesn’t sound too difficult when everything is going perfectly well, but that’s because we’re used to hearing musicians go through this kind of material on modern instruments. And when they do, we miss out on the sensational pleasures of hearing a natural trumpet playing baroque music as it was originally conceived – as it sounded in Bach’s own ears. Think of Handel’s aquatic music performed by the Academy of Early Music with natural horns and natural trumpets. This is the sound. It’s magic, there is nothing else like it in the world, and we wouldn’t have any of this in modern times without brave souls like Chris Belluscio, who, one imagines, has to endure not only wounds but the slings and arrows of people who just can’t fathom the allure of the kind of music he loves.
It takes a lasting ego to play old music on period instruments, even for an audience of friends. A baroque violin or trumpet can embarrass a talented player by speaking indiscreetly at inappropriate times. Many types of period instruments are notoriously difficult to tune, let alone stay in tune. But the sport of period music is a lot like riding the bulls: you know you’ll be run over and bruised sooner or later. But you keep coming back for more because the rewards are so great.