#ConcertReview #BrightYoungBaroque #CamerataTintaBarocca

#ConcertReview #BrightYoungBaroque #CamerataTintaBarocca

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Camerata Tinta Barocca, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Wednesday 24 June 2015

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This concert saw the last performance of founder Quentin Crida for the next 6 months or so, as he will be on sabbatical. CTB will continue in the capable hands of Erik Dippenaar Artistic Director, and Michael Maas Administrative Co ordinator. The audiences will miss Quentin’s humour and anecdotal snippets of contextual history as much as we will miss his viola and violin playing.

I always enjoy CTB performances very much and I expect their high standard of playing and fresh interpretation to continue in Crida’s absence. Entries and tutti sections are outstandingly synchronous and clean, and coupled with their ideology of recreating the performance of works as if for the first time, the resulting sound is unassuming and uncomplicated even in the delivery of complex material. When presented in this way, the music takes on a kind of innocent realism that reflects the consciousness of the time, in which these sounds were considered to be new, exciting, and avant guard. The use of period instruments accentuates the relative simplicity of the harmony and tonality compared to the scope of modulation and melodic possibility of romanticism and after, and gives each performance a feeling of authenticity, not only in the sound but also in the manner in which this orchestra plays, having the awareness of a chamber group.

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Jana-Mari van Dyk with Camerata Tinta Barocca at Bright Young Baroque

Jana-Mari van Dyk, Se Florindo e fedele, Scarlatti

Bright Young Baroque is a great opportunity for upcoming talent to experience playing with an orchestra and an audience, and is one of the central ethical principles of CTB. Jana-Mari van Dyk‘s Scarlatti (Se Florindo e fedele) came across with good projection, a wonderfully rich tone, and excellent control of vibrato – which is perhaps more difficult for a singer once accustomed to it. The simplicity of her delivery matched that of the orchestra in accentuating the astounding mathematics behind Baroque music, which can become lost in over-interpretation.

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Johannes Visser with Camerata Tinta Barocca at Bright Young Baroque

Johannes Visser, Andante and Rondo for Double Bass, Dragonetti

Johannes Visser (Dragonetti’s Andante and Rondo for Double Bass) is a promising performer indeed, demonstrating excellent reach and dexterity in the left hand. This instrument does not appear easy to play, and a post concert chat with Johannes confirmed that it can be every bit as monstrous as it looks! Besides navigating the distance one has to cover in the left hand, the right hand has a completely separate technique which must also be mastered. This is of course true of any stringed instrument, but the Double Bass is exceptional in it’s enormous size. Visser handled the many challenges of his instrument professionally, producing the lovely warm tones that make the study worth the effort.

 

Jeffrey Armstrong and Stephanie Lawrenson with Camerata Tinta Barocca at Bright Young Baroque

Jeffrey Armstrong and Stephanie Lawrenson, Concerto for Two Violins in D mol, Bach

 It was good to see Jeffrey Armstrong emerging from CTB’s tutti, taking the first violin of Bach’s famous Concerto for Two Violins in D mol. A dynamic and entertaining violin player, his experience with CTB has no doubt been invaluable as an opportunity to pick up on guest performer’s techniques, and this certainly comes across in his performing. Second violin Stephanie Lawrenson is a lyrical and sensitive violinist with a good ear for balance. Despite having a brighter sounding instrument she compensated well, using her volume when required. Together they delivered a very listenable conversation at a comfortable tempo.

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Camerata Tinta Barocca Baroque concert on period instruments

From Left: Refiloe Olifant violin, Jeffrey Armstrong violin, Grant Brasler Harpsichord, Emile de Roubaix viola, Quentin Crida viola, Barbara Kennedy cello, Richard Moir bassoon

Another emergence from the CTB tutti was Fifi (Refiloe) Olifant, leading the Lalande Les Fontaines de Versailles. This first peace after the interval glowed with a hazy pastoral dance feel, easily conjuring dreamy images of grape vines, white pillars, and terracotta tiles. Olifant’s first violin was accurate and well balanced.

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Nkosana Gugu Soko with Camerata Tinta Barocca at Bright Young Baroque

Nkosana Gugu Soko, Concerto for Flute in G dur, Quantz

Nkosana Gugu Soko‘s Concerto for Flute in G dur, Quantz, was a delight. In the right hands, his instrument has the advantage of being one of the most beautiful sounds in the orchestra, but unlike the double bass, the flute appears easy to play, masking the hidden technique of breathing. Soko demonstrated both a mastery of this skill, and impressive finger technique over tricky intervals and arpeggios.

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Joshua Frank with Camerata Tinta Barocca at Bright Young Baroque

Joshua Frank, Concerto for Recorder in G dur, Vivaldi

I must confess surprise in recorder player Joshua Frank (Concerto for Recorder in G dur, Vivaldi) owing to a quite remarkable display of technique for his instrument. He is clearly very talented, but also seems very comfortable as a leader, bringing the orchestra into the 3rd movement with a simple nod that landed on his first note, the first of a crazy run for both recorder and orchestra, and this entry was immaculate! Widely known for his reputation as a virtuoso, Vivaldi certainly didnt let this one slide – the concerto is packed full of his signature style, well performed by Frank with note perfection even during scorching semiquaver triplets that leap between octaves.

Completely in character, Crida announced the final work quoting PDQ Bach: “And now we come to the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the last item on the program.” The first movement of Albinoni’s Sonata IIa 5 in C dur (Largo) charmingly follows for a while the famous Pachelbel canon, and then thankfully modulates and meanders peacefully through the neighbouring keys. CTB was again led by Olifant with exquisite tone and alluring dynamics. Then a fugue begins (Allegro) with Olifant taking the first voice, joined by viola, then violin, then viola, then harpsichord and Celo to make five voices. For those who are familiar with baroque and choral arrangement this is all very pedestrian, but in my experience, and perhaps keyboard players can identify with this, there is something very amazing about being able to identify each voice of a fugue as it enters, played by a different instrument, as each voice has it’s own identifiable sound whereas in keyboard versions all the voices sound the same. The third movement is again Largo, all sweet and sad, followed by another five voice fugue – an extremely complicated form when the voices are combined, and yet relatively simple when each voice can be identified separately.

As a form, the fugue is both fascinating and intellectually challenging for the audience, and I found myself wondering at the modern misconception that people were pretty dumb back then because they hadn’t invented the internet. CTB concerts always remind me that following and being entertained by baroque music requires far more intelligence than our modern completely non-engaging entertainments on TV, computer, or cinema. Were we smarter before the industrial revolution?

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Concert Review: Vivaldi’s Lute – Camerata Tinta Barocca, Uwe Grosser

Concert Review: Vivaldi’s Lute – Camerata Tinta Barocca, Uwe Grosser

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Camerata Tinta Barocca, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Wed 18 Feb 2015

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The evening opened in a dreamy passacaglia by Biagio Marini, setting an elegant, graceful atmosphere of the finest Italian baroque. Beginning on his bass lute, (chittarone) Grosser provided a basso continuo – a form of accompaniment that encourages improvisation. Talking to him afterwards, Grosser explained how he enjoys arranging the figured bass line much like jazz musicians interpret a standard.

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There is such a wonderful feeling of freshness in these early works, composed when classical music was new and its harmony was still forming. Trends became fashionable and disappeared as quickly as they do today, as Erik Dippenaar mentioned in his pre-concert talk, and it always fascinates my imagination to hear a 17th century compositions played on the instruments of the day as if it were modern, and to think that these early composers could have no idea of what happened in later centuries as a result of their explorations.

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One of the most enjoyable elements in early baroque music for me is the enigmatic logic in the number of bars. Our western ears have become so accustomed to four bar phrases, like walking around a square courtyard. But in baroque music the concrete of this logic had not completely set, so one has a feeling of arriving one bar too soon at a cadence, or that some of these squares must actually be triangles. I imagine this would be either frustrating or delightful depending on one’s level of comfort with odd timings – I find it mesmerizing – like becoming completely lost in a beautiful, elegant palace with many courtyards and gardens, most of which have four walls, some have three, or five, and although blissfully disorientated, one always arrives back at the beginning, just as Douglas Hofstadter’s describes “strange loops” in his book Godel, Escher, Bach, 1979. In clarifying the title, Hofstadter often emphasised that he is indicating our ability to form logic from a seemingly illogical distribution of information in the brain, and I can think of no stimulant more powerful than the psychoacoustic effect of baroque music to facilitate the formation of neural networks. There is something about baroque music that is so orderly, so mathematical, so fresh and peaceful, that it brings to one’s thoughts a sense of sanctuary.

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Quentin Crida and Uwe Grosser playing Vivaldi's Concerto for Viola d'amore and Lute

Quentin Crida and Uwe Grosser playing Vivaldi’s Concerto for Viola d’amore and Lute

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Vivaldi – Concerto in D Major
Most often performed on a guitar, it was a delight to hear this concerto played on the originally intended instrument. Vivaldi developed many techniques for example the pull-off, that were later famously employed by violinists like Paganini, and much later electric guitarists like Van Halen. Grosser performed this extremely technical work with dexterity. He has a wonderful sense of phrasing that can only come with experience – an amazing sense of knowing how to take his time and even to fall slightly behind during the phrase, and yet he lands on “one” perfectly at the beginning of the new phrase. CTB was at this point in the concert a quartet of two violins, cello, and harpsichord, and managed extremely skilled sensitivity to Grosser’s softly spoken lute.

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Vivaldi – Concerto in D minor, RV 540 for Viola d’amore and Lute
Cape Town is very fortunate to have a musician such as Quentin Crida – every bit as serious as granite when he performs, the dry humour of his announcements between pieces verges on stand-up comedy – we were in fits of laughter at the thought of PDQ Bach’s Concerto for bagpipes and lute! The dialogues between violin (Quentin chose this over his viola) and lute were enchanting, Grosser’s stunning right hand technique delivering a light dexterous Shakespearian accompaniment to Crida’s lyrical Largo serenade. I am always impressed with the dynamics in CTB performances. In keeping with the baroque style there is no conductor, and yet the instrumentalists seem to share the same understanding of how the work should be interpreted. They have an awareness of one another that seldom forms in larger orchestras.
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Upcoming Concerts:

Camerata Tinta Barocca – The Clarinet Shall Sound
Danrè Strydom, Head of Winds at UFS performs a fascinating programme of early works for the clarinet. Works by J Stamitz and Fasch.
20h00 Thursday 19 March 2015
Simon’s Town Methodist Church

Uwe Grosser – Duetti – for lutes and voices
Join Uwe Grosser (lute, chitarrone), Vera Vukovic (lute, soprano) and Tessa Roos (mezzo soprano) in an intimate concert of songs and duets by Dowland, Monteverdi, Kapsperger and more. Free entrance, donations welcome. Bring snacks and wine to share. Enquiries: Vera on 076 332 7768
4:00pm Sunday 1 March 2015
Weltevreden, Oranje Road, Noordhoek