Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Early Music Now: Tafelmusik

It may seem we are cramming in a lot of live performance this month, and
that's true. However, for a lot of events you have to take them when
they come, and when one of the finest Baroque orchestras in the world
comes to Milwaukee for one night only, that's when you go. Which is why
we made our way to the Cardinal Stritch University campus Tuesday night
the 10th.

Tafelmusik is in its 30th year of presenting the extensive Baroque
repertoire with Baroque instruments and tuning (about half a step lower
than today's pitch). Director and concertmaster Jeanne Lamon plays a
1725 Serafini violin that has been lovingly restored, which has a lovely
mellow sound.

Tafelmusik plays and records a great deal (76 CDs!) plus touring. This
year they made their first stop ever in Milwaukee, on their way to their
Carnegie Hall debut in New York City. We were given a very nice
program, consisting of:

Ouverture Number 6 in G Minor, Francesco Maria Veracini
Suite from "The Fairy Queen", Henry Purcell
Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, J.S. Bach
Concerto Grosso Op. 1, No. 5, Pietro Antonio Locatelli
Suite in F Major from Water Music, George Frideric Handel

The ensemble consisted of seven violins, (three first, four second);
three violas, two violoncellos, one bass viol, one harpsichord, two
oboes, one bassoon, and two horns who joined on the Water Music suite.
We were interested by the fact that the players stood up to perform,
with the exception of the cellists and harpsichord player. We weren't
sure how authentically Baroque this was, but it added a bit of visual
interest, contrasting the general unison of the bows with the swaying
and leaning of the individual players as their style took them.

(This might be a matter of group style. Tafelmusik (German: literally,
"table-music") is a "term denoting music from the 16th and 17th
centuries which was used as background music for feasts, banquets and
other outdoor events." In such case the instrumentalists would probably
most often shuffle into the dining rooms, stand up to play, and leave
when done--.)
All of the pieces were, as far as we could tell, played flawlessly and
with fine interpretation. Indeed, Georgie said that she never cared to
hear the Water Music played by a conventional orchestra again. The
Veracini piece was fun and interesting. Veracini was evidently sort of
the Paganini of his day, being reputed a madman and an alchemist, but
undoubtedly a fine composer. It was good to hear the Fairy Queen pieces
played at the proper dance tempi, with the Baroque oboe filling in for
the counter-tenor voice. Conductor Lamon was joined by first violin
Aisslinn Nosky for a masterful rendition of the Bach Concerto, and the
Locatelli was very fine as well.
The audience responded with a general standing ovation, which drew a
remarkable furioso piece as encore. Unfortunately, no one mentioned the
name of this piece, as I would like to look it up some time.
If Tafelmusik is ever in your area, and you care for the Baroque at all,
they are not to be missed.
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