Friday, June 27, 2014
Montreal Baroque Festival
A highlight of my year is the Montreal Baroque Festival. Until last year the artistic director was Susie Napper. Now she shares the job with Matthias Maute. I have finally learned that one can't get to every concert without being sleep deprived. In addition, the concerts start to blur. So this year I was a bit more judicious - not more than about 2 concerts per day over the four days of the festival. Add a few informal events and it was still a bit of sensory overload but great fun and wonderful music.
Outdoor concerts can be a challenge. This one by Passiflore was accompanied by sirens, car horns and a rally for a fundraiser that was happening down the street. I have heard this group in a more intimate setting without the microphones which were necessary here and it was a delightful experience. Despite the cacophony around them, they still managed to share some wonderful music and it was nice to see the passersby stop for a while to enjoy.
One evening a musical scategories game was played in a local cafe. Each round was followed by a musical interlude featuring one of the many early music ensembles from Montreal. Les Voix humaines, seen here, have been on the scene for a long time. Others are just starting out. There is so much talent and such a variety of groups. Montreal is a haven for those, like me, who enjoy early music. Susie Napper and Margaret Little are the core and founders of the group. They were joined by four other viola da gamba players for a concert of music by Lupo as part of the festival.
La Petite Harmonie (you can see the horn player from the photo at the top) consists of wind instruments. I'll be watching for their concerts. They also played in the orchestra for the final concert of the festival - Ensemble Caprice presented an all Beethoven evening with a piano concerto played by Tom Beghin (he also played a solo concert of Beethoven sonatas - I find his playing very moving) as well as Beethoven's Pastorale Symphonie. Beethoven is outside what is normally thought of as early music, but it was interesting to hear on the kind of instruments Beethoven would have composed for. Modern instruments have a different timbre.
I always enjoy hearing Flûte Alors! - all recorder players. Of course - I am a little biased, being a recorder player myself. These young musicians form a wonderful quartet. Their ensemble playing is tight and beautifully in tune.
Concerts of high quality - mingling of audience and musicians, - the audience feels invested in the festival. May it continue for many years!