Six Fascinating Concerts in One Day at Itinéraire Baroque 2018


FranceFrance Itinéraire Baroque 2018 [3] – L’Itinéraire: Périgord vert, France, 28.7.2018. (CC)

Franziska Fleischanderl © Jean-Michel Bale

After a day centred around Cercles, Saturday brought the by-now traditional ‘Itinéraire’. Six concerts, six venues. There is one introductory concert where all audience members are present, then the audience is split into five groups for the remaining five concerts. The players remain in the venues and the audience moves from one to another, each group starting at a different venue. It is a gorgeous way to spend a day, especially in Summer sunshine. We started at the third printed venue, Église Saint-André des Graulges. But first, the opening concert.

Jonker Jacob van Eyck (c1590-1657): The Orpheus of UtrechtReine-Marie Verhagen (recorder). Église Saint-Laurent de Mareuil, 09:45.

Der fluyten lusthof: Amarilli Mia Bella. 80 ans de guerre avec l’Espagne (1568-1648): Un chant espagnol; Alarme!; Bataille; Wilhelmus (Dutch National Anthem). Magnificat. Suite de l’âge d’or. Fantaisie et echo. Le Rossignol anglais

Last year the Itinéraire began at Cercles; this year it was to another regional large church, Église Saint-Laurent de Mareuil, a Romanesque building that, while it housed the assembled hordes, seemed too large a space for a recorder recital.

Jonker Jacob van Eyck, known as ‘The Orpheus of Utrecht’, wrote Der fluyten Lusthof (The Flute’s Pleasure Garden, first edition 1644) for solo recorder. It is a magnum opus of Wagnerian dimensions (some 140 tunes, each with variations; I believe it lasts some 3½ hours).

Even here, in the private secrecies of the extended ‘Amarilli Mia Bella’, modern times interfered, with a mobile phone’s buzzing adding a dissonant pedal. Reine-Marie Verhagen is a fabulous player (a member of Koopman’s Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and, in 1980, co-founder with Koopman’s wife, Tini Mathot, of the Corelli Ensemble). She plays charmingly and evocatively, while enjoying the shouts of ‘Alarme!’ in ‘Bataille’. The ‘Wilhelmus’ is the Dutch National Anthem, a little less dour in its guise for solo recorder. It was nice to have the ‘Magnificat’ with variations, but by far the most musically satisfying pieces came from the Suite de l’áge d’or; the Prélude in particular was lovely. If Fantaisie et echo dutifully did what it says on the tin, it did so in jolly fashion; infinitely sweeter were the bird imitations, on a sopranino recorder, of ‘Le rossignol anglais’.

I can’t pretend to have been particularly energised by the opening event, and only intermittently engaged – it did rather feel like I needed some fresh air by the end – but there is no doubting Verhagen’s ardent championship of van Eyck.

In Stile Italiano Music by Rossi, Cavalli, Farina, Wichel, Kempis: Legrenzi Ensemble Clematis (Stéphanie de Failly, Amandine Solano [violins]. Sarah Van Oudenhove [bass viol]. Ariel Rychter [harpsichord/organ]). Église Saint-André des Graulges, 11:00.

RossiSinfonia undecoima in ecco. Sonata duodecima sopra ‘La Bergamasca’
CavalliCanzona a tre
Farina – Sonata detta la Moretta
Van Wichel – Sonata sesta a tre
Nicolaus à KempisCiaconna
Legrenzi – Sonata, ‘La Frangipana’

The Église Saint-André des Graulges, which housed this concert of Italian and South Netherlandish pieces, is a small, charming Romanesque church. Salomone Rossi’s Sinfonia undecima in ecco, with its chamber organ alternating between background and its rich colours, found the excellent acoustic enhancing the Ensemble Clematis’ already beautiful sound. The violins in particular sounded rich. Dialogues between Stéphanie de Feilly and Amadine Solano were superbly managed.

The Cavalli Canzona a tre is a fascinating composition, beginning with smooth counterpoint before embarking on a Passacaglia, here with a lovely organ contribution from Ariel Rychter (harpsichord was used for the sprightlier sections). The acoustic of the church blissfully allowed for the fast passagework. The short-lived Carlo Farina (c1600-1639) is believed by some researchers to be the inventor of the double-stop technique. His Sonata detta la moretta is simply beautiful, played with heartfelt depth here by the Ensemble Clematis. Lovely echo effects between the two violins, in the nature of a competition between the musicians, and the most beautiful chromatic ‘slide’ at one point made this a captivating experience, the clear highlight of the concert.

The pieces by Philippe Van Wichel and Nicolaus à Kempis represented the South Netherlandish elements. Philippe Van Wichel’s hyper-lachrymose Sonata sesta a tre admits a central contrasting, bright and dancing section before Nicolaus à Kempis’ Ciaconna was defined by a strong bass viol contribution from Sarah Van Oudenhove. It’s interesting to note that the Ensemble Clematis has also made a performing version (alongside Leonardo García Alarcón) and gave the first performance in modern times of Zamponi’s beautiful opera Ulisse nell isola di Circe; the opera had first been given in Brussels in 1650.

The close (apart from an encore of the antiphonal violin ‘echo’ effects) was Legrenzi’s Sonata La Frangipana, dancing but with clearly carefully considered phrasing. This was a demanding programme for the two violinists in particular; all credit to the performers for their verve.

Divertimentos for the Spanish Guitar Works by Sor and Giuliani: Fred Jacobs (period guitar) Église Saint-Jean Baptiste de Puyrénier, 12:15.

Playing on an original guitar dating from around 1820 (the time when Sor moved to France), Fred Jacobs gave a trilingual spoken introduction before launching into a sequence of seventeen pieces, three of which were by Giuliani, the rest by Sor. The acoustic of the Église Saint-Jean Baptiste de Puyrénier (originally a chapel belonging to the Knights of Malta) is perfect for this intimate music, its wooden ceiling allowing for maximal clarity. The delightful opener was Sor’s Op.1/1 (an Andante), a lovely piece, performed with superb musicality by Jacobs. If a stray fly might have sought to interrupt the flow of the Allegretto moderato, Op. 60/22, it was but a passing irritation.

The three pieces by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) constituted a set of three Andantinos (Opp. 40/11, 78/2 and 78/4). Occasionally quite Mozartian, they acted as a perfect interlude before more Sor: the Cantabile, Op.42/1 had a melodic line that seemed perfectly inflected. The concert ended on a gentle note with the Allegretto moderato, Op.6/1.

Performing with complete integrity, Jacobs was completely convincing in this repertoire.

Virtuosi da Camera Music by Prowo, Vivaldi and Telemann: Ensemble Albori Musicali (Jan Van Hoecke [recorder], Liv Heym [violin], Esmé de Vries [cello], Jovanka Marville [harpsichord]). Église de Saint-Sulpice de Mareuil, 15:00.

Prowo (attrib. Telemann) – Trio Sonata in D minor, TWV 42:d10. Trio Sonata in G minor, TWV 42:g9. 

Vivaldi – Sonata for Flute, Cello and Basso continuo in A minor, RV 86. Chamber Concerto for Flute, Violin, Cello and Basso continuo in D, RV 92

Vivaldi and Telemann had already featured in the Festival, but here in Saint-Sulpice de Mareuil, with its painted wooden-ceiling nave, we find them together in the same hour. The first piece, though, was by Pierre Prowo (1697-1757), though it has been attributed to Telemann (hence the TWV number). The busy opening does indeed suggest Telemann at his most vivacious. It is a bright start, and the Ensemble Albori Musicali, a group formed in 2016 in Lausanne, went straight the music’s heart; Jan Van Hoecke’s recorder contributions were particularly impressive. The gentle slow movement shows clearly why people thought this piece was by Telemann, such is the stylistic similarity. The finale, though, seemed just a touch under-tempo; something that was also the impression in the finale of the next piece, Vivaldi’s Sonata for flute, cello and basso continuo, RV86. All congratulations to the cellist here, Esmé de Vries, who delivered the difficult independent cello part superbly. The Chamber Concerto, RV 92 found the tempi all feeling just right; Telemann’s Sonata a tre in G minor could have explored the more interior moments more deeply, though, and there was a tendency to over-project from all players here.

It was great to hear some extempore bridges between movements from this group, and a lovely programme.

Lo Salteri Works by Anonymous and Canales: Francziska Fleischanderl (dulcimer). Église Saint-Martin de Connezac, 16:15.

Anonymous – Sonata No.4 (Madrid, 1754). Folia-Variations (Barcelona, 1754)

Canales – Minuet No.4

If there was one revelation of the Itinéraire day, if not of the whole festival, this was it. Francziska Fleischanderl seems to have devoted her life to her instrument, the dulcimer, also known as the ‘tympanon’ in French. We heard both modes of playing: with hammers or plucked, the whole encased within Fleischanderl’s full and fascinating explanations. She explained that her instrument had no successors (as opposed to the fortepiano following on from the harpsichord, for instance). Hence its fall into oblivion, and Fleischanderl’s mission to extricate her instrument therefrom (in addition to her performance and recording activities, she is writing a doctorate about the dulcimer, under Ton Koopman’s direction).

The sound is magical. There are over 1000 manuscripts of music for the dulcimer, mainly Italian and Spanish; it was used at court, in the theatre, in the church and at home. There are around 70 strings in two rows. Playing from memory, the anonymous ‘Sonata No.4’ from a 1754 Madrid MS was enchanting; some gestures sounded like early Haydn. Silences spoke volumes, the perfectly quiet audience a testament to the unfolding magic.

The plucked technique was used for Canales’ haunting Minuet No.4 before the anonymous set of variations on ‘La Follia’ (from a Barcelona manuscript, also of 1754). There was a mix of techniques here, the perfectly judged embellishments of the theme an absolute joy. Hearing this in the modified old chateau chapel that is the Église Saint-Martin de Connezac was a particular treat.

Fleischanderl has brought out a number of discs: on present evidence, all are to be recommended. A number of YouTube videos and interviews flesh out the experience.

Vive le Geus (The Netherlands against Spain)Camerata Trajectina (Hieke Meppelink [soprano], Saskia Coolen [recorder], Constance Allanic [viola da gamba], Arjen Verhage [lute]. Château d’Aucors, 17:30.

Finally, for the Itinéraire day, a selection of music from the conflict between the Netherlands and Spain. Heard in the open air, this was a bracing event indeed. How wonderful to see Saskia Coolen playing recorder from a window above, down into the courtyard, with the second cry of the day of Eyck’s ‘alarme!’ from a performer.

The actual performance order of the 12 pieces was somewhat different from what the programme promised (and, indeed, included an extra number, the ‘Complainte di Emilia’ for soprano, harp and lute). Laid-back, the two younger players in cool shades, and with a real feel of spectacle, it did rather feel as if the order our particular group had been given for the Itinéraire had led to the perfect finale. The singers (Heike Mappenlink and Nico van der Meel) had to work to project, of course, but what fun they had! Rustic is the word that springs to mind.

As an addendum, and to bring our particular Itinéraire to a rather nice full circle, here’s a video (click here) of Saskia Collen, who played in this final concert, performing van Eyck’s Le Rossignol anglais, which Reine-Marie Verhagen played all that time ago, at 09:45!

Colin Clarke

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