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

Great Lakes Baroque, “Io Vidi in Terra: Reflections of Florence”

On Sunday evening, September 13th, we had the pleasure of attending the inaugural concert of a new performing organization, Great Lakes Baroque, at the St. Joseph’s Chapel on the School Sisters of St. Francis campus.

I say “organization” rather than “group”, since there is no fixed group membership or ensemble. Noted harpsichordist Jory Vinikour is the Artistic Director, who will be assembling performers for each program as needed. For this concert, he put together an ensemble of truly talented and experienced musicians. The group consisted of Mr. Vinikour; Mezzo-soprano Celine Ricci; Countertenor Jose Lemos; lutenist Deborah Fox (theorbo and guitar); and cellist Craig Trompeter. All these people have remarkable recording, performing, and conducting records, and it was a privilege to have them all together in one place.

The evening’s program focused on the works of Claudio Monteverdi and approximate contemporaries of the Italian 17th Century, and opened with Occhi, perche piangete? by Agostino Seffani, a vocal duet accompanied by the instrumentalists. This piece got particularly thrilling effect from the very lively acoustics of the marble chapel. The reverberation of the singers’ voices (although not, curiously, of the instruments) made it sound more like a chorus than a duet, and, although the singers were a few paces from us, as though the voices were coming from the middle of the air.

This was followed by Su la cettra amorosa, (Tarquino Merula), a love song with quite a modern sounding moving line in the guitar and harpsichord, and then a theorbo solo by Ms. Fox, Toccata arpggiata, by Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger.

Next was Se dolce e’l tormento (So sweet is the torment), by Monteverdi, and Io vidi in terra, by Marco da Gagliano. This was followed by a Spagnoletta, by Bernardo Storace, which was a solo by Mr. Vinikour on the chapel’s pipe organ.

Ms. Ricci soloed on L’Eraclito ameroso (Udite, amanti), a song by Barbara Strozzi, one of the few women who’s compositions from this period survive. Dark and passionate in tone, Georgie and I detected elements found in the fado music of Portugal, and in the tango, and suspected there were common roots.  The first half ended with Se l’aura spira, by Girolamo Frescobaldi.

Following intermission, we had Canzonetta spirituale, by Merula; L’amante segreto (The secret love), another torch song by Strozzi; and Ciaconna, by Storace, which allowed Mr. Vinikour to exhibit his virtuosic talent on the harpsichord. This was followed by works by Frescobaldi, Benedetto Ferrari, and Steffani. There was an encore, the climactic duet, "I gaze at you, I possess you" from L'incoronazione di Poppea.

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Tags: music
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