Arwen Myers. Photo Stark Photography

Salish Sea Early Music Festival
Airs for Spring: Springtime Baroque

When & Where Saturday, April 13 at 7:00pm | St. Mary's Kerrisdale, 2490 West. 37th, Vancouver BC

Performers Arwen Myers Soprano Elisabeth Wright harpsichord Jeffrey Cohan baroque flute

Programme Handel Singe, Seele, Flammende Rose J.S.Bach Sonata in G major, BWV 1021, Seele, deine Spezereien F. Couperin Prelude in A Major, selections from Pieces de Clavecin bk.III T. Bordet selections from Recueil d'Airs L-N Clerambault Orphee

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

Springtime Baroque lived up to its billing with a programme of arias redolent of gardens, birds and rebirth. Opening with Handel’s enchanting paean to the natural world “Singe, Seele” and his love song to the rose “Flammende Rose,” the trio of Jeffrey Cohan (baroque flute), Elisabeth Wright (harpsichord) and Arwen Myers (Soprano) quickly set the sensuous mood of the evening’s music.

“Sonata in G major, BWV 1021”, Bach’s sonata for set for harpsichord and flute instead of the original violin, followed, being a sweet Adagio, with a happy Vivace and a zippy Presto sandwiching a luxuriant Largo. This in preparation for the following transcendental “Seele, deine Spezereien” from Bach’s "Easter Oratorio" which sent the flute wafting over the glorious voice of Arwen Myers. She truly captured both the intimacy and joy which is Mary’s, (Mary the mother of James,) as she contemplates Jesus’ resurrection.

The sharp French bite of Couperin’s Prelude in A Major for harpsichord contrasted nicely. Elisabeth Wright drew nuanced shade and light as formally and elegantly as a Versailles garden, adding tasteful fountains of trills and resonating views. She continued with two of Couperin’s bird portraits, "Les Fauvétes Plaintives" and "La Linote-éfarouchée" (Plaintive Warblers and Startled Linnet). The little birds sprang to life with playing of precision and clarity plus a lovely sense of humour.

Three charming chansons by Toussaint Bordet continued the pastoral theme in songs of nightingales, the beauty of the day and the charm of a stream murmuring through the countryside. The apparent simplicity of flute and voice in duet was belied by Myers delight in unpretentious pleasures and Cohan’s empathetic flute.

To close, drama and storytelling in the form of Clerambault's cantata on the Orpheus myth. Arwen Myers unleashed all her dramatic skills to relate the story which has variety of character, strong emotions, and atmospheric locations. She was cool and clear as the narrator, impassioned as the bereft Orpheus, and enthusiastic cheerleader in “Allez, Orphee” encouraging Orpheus to find Eurydice in Hades. Wright and Cohan deepened the spirit of the moment, with all three notably depicting the darkness and terror of Hades and the fearsomeness of Pluto. Clerambault finished his story on a cliff-hanger, at the moment of hope when Orpheus is free to take Eurydice back to the light, so the evening ended as happily as it had begun.


© 2024 Elizabeth Paterson