Saturday, June 25, 2011


Clavicytherium by susanvg
Clavicytherium, a photo by susanvg on Flickr.
Five concerts - my head is swimming with music. The day began with teeming rain. After a trip by metro to Old Montreal and a walk up to the Café A Propos with rivulets of water racing down the hill, we ate breakfast while waiting for the concert. Our wet clothes began a long process of drying.

The first concert was held in the cafe - a young harpsichord player, Mélisande McNabney, who I have known since she was a young child at CAMMAC. She played music by Forqueray and Bach. A young artist, or extraordinary talent, she delighted the audience with her musicality and technique.

Concert #2 featured Mandragore, a medieval group. A lovely variety of music, beautifully presented. The voices blended and the variety of instruments provided interested colours.

Concert #3 was presented by the recorder consort: Flûte Alors! They played an astonishing number of notes at breakneck speed as they performed works by Matthias Maute and Vivaldi. I wrote about them recently when I attended another of their concerts.

Concert #4 was an interesting concept that worked beautifully. The late Bruce Haynes, a brilliant music historian, oboist and music philosopher constructed 6 new "Brandenburg Concerti" by using movements from Bach cantatas and concertos. This practice was not uncommon in the baroque era when composers reused movements from one piece in others and with copyright being quite different from now, they would even incorporate music from other composers into their own works. The new Brandenburgs were based loosely on the originals in terms of mood, but the instrumentation was based on players who were available in Montreal - another typical baroque practice. If you had a good oboist and harpsichordist, you would be likely to write more music for that composition of players. It was an emotional evening as Bruce died only a month ago; he never heard his extraordinary reworking of Bach's music. The musicians will be recording these new concertos - I can assure you I will be buying a copy.

Concert #5 brought both madrigals and some harpsichord pieces. The harpsichord pictured above is different from most harpsichords in that it is upright (like modern day upright pianos). It was played by Alex Weimann. The Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam were extraordinary. They performed madrigals (mainly by their namesake, Gesualdo). Their tuning, precision and overall musicality were magical.

Fatigue  prevented a visit to the Cafe to hear more young musicians. More concerts to come...

1 comment:

  1. Yes,the harpsichord is like modern upright pianos, but so beautiful. I am going to go to the annual concert next month,which will be held by a music college I graduated, and this time it will be a charity concert for the earthquake's victims. All the players are young graduates from the same college, and will peform piano,harpshicord,and stringed instruments! Now, I am so excited!!
    Thank you for sharing many concerts as always!