Monday, June 27, 2016
Saturday at the Baroque Festival
Photos: June 25, 2016
Another long day of concerts... We started the day in Redpath Museum, with a concert of nyckelharpa, a Scandinavian instrument. All the compositions were played by the composer, Jean-François Bélanger but were based on the Scandinavian style of music. The earliest references to this instrument date from the middle ages; images are found in artwork.
It is quite a complex instrument with strings that are bowed. The player presses on keys which then depress the strings allowing for changes in pitch much like a string player would depress a string with his/her finger. The sound is similar to a hurdy-gurdy which is in the same family of instruments.
Bélanger also had a tenorharpa (a lower pitch); it was easier to see the action of the keys on this instrument.
A concert by Vincent Lauzer was held in the Osler Library. It was definitely not baroque, though all the pieces by contemporary composers all by one of whom was in the room. Four of the six pieces were composed specifically for Vincent. It was a technical challenge for Vincent (but, as always, he was up to it) and an aural challenge for the audience who are more used to baroque sounds. He convinced me - I quite enjoyed the concert.
The head librarian of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine invited us to see the "old" part of the library, actually a recreation of the original Osler Library which was moved in the 1960's when the medical faculty moved to the McIntyre Building. It contains thousands of old volumes housed in beautiful wood cabinets. The ashes of Osler and his wife are also housed there so it is a mausoleum as well as a library.
It was back to the Redpath Museum and another concert under the dinosaur. I had not been in the museum since I was about ten, so it was fun to pass by items on my way up the stairs that triggered memories.
A concert of Spanish music from both baroque and renaissance times was pared to the essentials according to guitarist, David Jacques. Strip away the extraneous instruments and with just guitar and percussion you can hear the essence of this music. The museum was hot, perhaps fitting for music from Spain.
Ziya Tabassian, an extraordinary percussionist, uses all parts of his body to provide the rhythms and textures for the music.
This renaissance guitar, much smaller than a modern guitar and smaller than the baroque guitar can still fill a room with sound. It was hard to keep still to the Spanish rhythms with pulses changing from 3 beats to 2 beats. In my mind I could see dancers swaying, stamping, but with the dignity and elegance that Spanish dancers posses.
In the evening we were treated to a lot of dance, a co-production Le Nouvel Opéra and the Abbaye royale de Saint-Riquier with choreography by Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière, above, and Mickaël Bouffard. It was based around the fictional widow of Jean-Féry Rebel and all the music was his, played on two harpshichords.
Lively dancing, a script done in old French making it harder for me to understand. There were some delightful moments.
Four concerts... I just couldn't do the fifth. After all there is more to come.