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

Early Music Now: The Four Nations Ensemble, “The Paris

On Saturday, April 12th, we went to the Zelazo Center on the UWM Campus for Early Music Now’s program “The Paris of Leclair and Rameau,” presented by The Four Nations Ensemble.

The Ensemble consists of Andrew Appel, Harpsichord and Director; Tatiana Chulochnikova, Violin; Colin St. Martin, Flute; and Loretta O’Sullivan, Cello. They were joined for vocals by soprano Dominique Labelle.
The first half of the program gave us “Sonata for violin and continuo in D major, Opus 9, #3” by Jean-Marie Leclaire; “Two Airs de cour”, by Michel Lambert (Ms. Labelle singing); “Air gracieux en rondeau, Heureux oiseaux,” by Jean-Phillippe Rameau; and “Deuxieme Suite,” by G.P. Telemann. All these pieces were beautifully played and fascinating to listen to. I found the “Two Airs” to be particularly interesting, as the singing in the low part of the range, the relatively free tempos, and the subject matter made me think that these were the 17th century ancestors of Edith Piaf torch songs: “Your scorn every day causes such alarm, yet I cherish my fate even if it is so rigorous. Alas, if in my suffering I find such charm, I would die of pleasure if I were any happier.”

The second half consisted of two longer pieces: “Pieces de Clavecin,” by Rameau, for solo harpsichord; and “Medee-Cantata for voice and instruments, Book I #5” by L.N. Clerambault.

The Rameau harpsichord suite is a particular favorite of Georgie’s and we were both impressed by Mr. Appel’s virtuosity.

The Clerambault Cantata was new to both of us. Medea (Medee) was a popular subject with the Enlightenment French, who were both horrified and titillated by her savage emotions. In the short movements of the cantata, Medea rages against Jason’s betrayal, then softens, considering what drew her to love him, then, enraged again at his betrayal, summons demons to inflict her revenge upon him. Ms. Labelle did a lovely job of portraying the emotional swings of the music, and was ably supported by the whole Ensemble.

This was just a splendid concert and we enjoyed it very much.

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Tags: music

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