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

Ensemble Musical Offering: “Hallmarks of Handel”

On Saturday evening, March 29th, we went to the Cathedral Church of All Saints to hear Ensemble Musical Offering’s program, “Hallmarks of Handel”.
On this evening, the group featured Joan Parsley on harpsichord; Gesa Kordes and Christine Hauply Annin, baroque violins; Edith Hines, baroque viola; Tulio Rondon, baroque cello; Sung Lee, baroque flute and oboe; Sian Ricketts, baroque oboe; and Theresa Koenig, baroque bassoon and recorder. Vocalists Chelsea Morrison and Sarah Richardson, sopranos, also appeared.

The program began with the Keyboard Concerto in B-Flat Major, Op. 4, #2. This was perhaps the only piece of the evening that had any defects, as we did notice a few missed notes on the part of Ms. Parsley. In fairness, it must be said that she had some trouble with her sheet music slipping during the performance, but we did think this very ambitious piece was not quite ready yet.

Ms. Morris and Ms. Richardson joined the group for the Arcadian Duet, “Quel fior ch’all’alba ride,” (HWV 192), which was just lovely. We found the close harmony of the two singers’ voices to be most pleasing.

Next, was the “Sinfonia for bassoon, strings, and bc (basso continuo?) in B-flat Major” (HWV 338), featuring Ms. Koenig on the bassoon. I was very interested in this piece, since I played bassoon in my high school concert band, and watched closely to see how the baroque bassoon is different from the modern standard Heckel system bassoon I used. The differences are striking, with the baroque bassoon having far fewer keys—five, as distinct from 25-27 on a modern bassoon—and more open finger holes. I was very impressed with Ms. Koenig’s mellow tone and agility in playing the lead role in this piece, which we both enjoyed immensely.

The first half ended with the Concerto Grosso Op. 3 No. 4 in F Major (HWV 315), which was also quite fine.

After the interval, the group recommenced with Suite in G Major, Wassermusik (HWV 305), followed by the aria “Augelletti, che cantate” from Handel’s opera Rinaldo. The title means “Little birds that sing,” and, in a clever innovation, was also accompanied by recorded songs of Spanish canaries. Ms. Richardson sang the aria, and Ms. Koenig accompanied on the soprano recorder. Mr. Lee played the flute for this piece, and Ms. Ricketts the tenor recorder.

Then, back to Arcadia for the two ladies to sing “No, di voi non vuo fidarmi,” (HWV 189), followed by Concerto Grosso Op. 3 No. 6 in D Major, (HWV 317).

All these pieces were beautifully done, and the enthusiastic applause elicited a rare encore, “Lascia ch'io pianga,” from Rinaldo, sung by Ms. Morris. This was exquisitely done, one of the best renditions of this piece we have heard, and drew a standing ovation.

Overall, a very fine concert which we enjoyed greatly. We are looking forward to the group’s C.P.E Bach program in May.

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Tags: music

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