It’s Never Too Late for Early Music

United StatesUnited States Mealli, van Eyck, Maute, Schmelzer, Corelli, Vitali, Castaldi, Kuehnel, Telemann and Vivaldi: Catacoustic Consort, Matthias Maute (recorder), Annalisa Pappano (viola da gamba), David Walker (theorbo), Ellizabeth Motter (Baroque triple-strung harp). Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1.2.13 (RDA)

Giovanni Pandolfi Mealli: La Vinciolina
 La Bernabea
August Kuehnel: Herr Jesu Christ, du Hoechstes Gut
Jacob van Eyck:Engels Nachtegaeltje
Matthias Maute: Canzona detta la Rondella
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: Sonata quarta
Arcangelo Corelli: Sonata Op. 5, No 10 in F
Tomasso Antonio Vitali: Chaconne in G
Georg Phillipp Telemann: Triosonate in D
Beleforonte Castaldi: Arpeggiata
Antonio Vivaldi: Il pastor fido

In the fascinating and often-neglected world of early music, those who create it deserve the status of explorers and heroes, researching and uncovering hidden treasures that most of us have never heard. In this concert at Cincinnati’s Christ Church Cathedral, German recorder virtuoso Matthias Maule and his fellow artists took us on a two-century journey of discovery, filled with spontaneous, energetic and idiomatic music-making.

The concert opened with two sonatas by Giovanni Pandolfi Mealli—La Vinciolina and La Bernabea—both improvisatory, unpredictable and fitting opportunities for Maule to show what the seemingly-simple recorder can do in the hands of a superb player.

August Kuehnel’s Herr Jesu Christ, du hoechstes Gut (Lord Jesus Christ, thou highest goodness) featured the fine playing of Elizabeth Motter on the Baroque triple-strung harp.

Next came Engels Nachtegaeltje (English Nightingale) by Jacob van Eyck, a whimsical piece that imitates the sounds of birds with a cascade of trills, arpeggios and glissandi. Maute gave this oddity a humorous performance, and then shared a composition of his own with the audience, the charming Canzona detta la Rondella.

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer’s Sonata quarta utilizes a four-note ground bass figure (admirably sustained here by Annalisa Pappano on the viola da gamba and David Walker on the theorbo) that created a hypnotic effect with its simple pattern of variations played by Maute’s recorder over a straightforward harmonic progression.

Arcangelo Corelli’s Sonata op. 5, No. 10 in F is a brief, four-movement work—a joyful, sunny example of Italian Baroque chamber music that closed the first half of the program.

Maute opened the second half with Tomasso Antonio Vitali’s Chaconne in G, familiar and often played as an encore by concert violinists. When stripped of the romantic overlay often imposed on it, this composition stuns with its bold emotional content. Maute played it to perfection.

Georg Phillipp Telemann’s four-movement Triosonate in D for recorder, treble viol and continuo afforded ample opportunities for Maute to interact with his gifted partners, Pappano and Walker. Beleforonte Castaldi’s Arpeggiata provided a rare, fine solo moment for Walker on the plus-sized and dulcet-toned theorbo.

The closing number, attributed to Antonio Vivaldi was “culled” by the thieving and little-known French composer Nicolas Chédeville from a collection of musical pieces titled Il pastor fido. It seems poor Chédeville was desperately in need of some cash when he decided to publish this music under the name of the much-better-known Vivaldi. The story of the hapless Chédeville and his lively music compels us to forgive his impertinence.

Heartfelt thanks are due to Pappano, the artistic director of Catacoustic Consort, for assembling yet another fascinating program of Baroque rarities, and for bringing Maule—a formidable recorder virtuoso—to Cincinnati for the first time.

Rafael de Acha

A footnote:

Starting with this concert Cincinnati will see a wide range of Early Music groups coming together in various venues throughout the city in an informal celebration of Renaissance and Baroque music that Catacoustic Consort is facilitating. The events will include a recital of French Baroque music for guitar and voice on February 10, at 3:00 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Hyde Park, with husband and wife duo Rodney Stucky and Mary Henderson-Stucky.

Later that day Classical Revolution will sponsor an all-early music sampler at the Northside Tavern, featuring among many groups, Ubi Caritas, Ad Astra and the Noyse Merchants. On February 17, at 4:00 p.m., at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Terrace Park, the Cincinnati Bach Ensemble and Choir will perform Thomas Tallis’ Lamentations of Jeremiah, and on February 19 at 12:00 p.m., The Band of the Baroque will perform at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati, as part of its Music Live at Lunch series.

Catacoustic Consort will return on March 17 at 3:00 p.m. and March 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Cincinnati’s Mercantile Library in a joint concert with concert:nova, featuring some of the words of Shakespeare set to music by various composers. An all-John Dowland candlelight concert in April, featuring his Lachrimae, will bring the Consort’s season to a close. For more information visit