Michael Freimuth Wilson
Photo:Vincent Lim

Salish Sea Early Music Festival
Three Centuries

When & Where January 26 at 7:00pm | St. Mary's Kerrisdale, 2490 West. 37th, Vancouver BC

Michael Freimuth Renaissance guitar and theorbo Jeffrey Cohan Renaissance and Baroque flutes

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

A sign of spring in Vancouver, besides the teaming rain, is the opening of the Salish Sea Early Music Festival. For the last decade they have presented music from the Renaissance to the Baroque on period instruments and specialists on those instruments from across Europe and North America..

The opening concert treated the gently steaming audience, refugees from the pouring rain, to an intimate performance of music from the grand courts and religious institutions of Spain, England, France and Italy, beginning with the latter half of the 16th century and just nudging into the 18th.

After beginning with pieces by Diego Ortiz and William Byrd who both deeply influenced later composers, the program moved on to highlight the canzon in an offering by Selma y Salaverde and then a galliard and arias by G.B. Buonamente. The Renaissance flutes played by Jeffrey Cohan have an airy timbre and colour. Not surprisingly, flute and guitar are a magic combination of elegance and style.

Next followed Fantasias by Miguel de Fuenllana for solo guitar. The Renaissance guitar has a clear and delicate timbre and the variations, in the precise hands of Michael Freimuth, were intellectually fascinating and emotionally warm.

Jeffrey Cohan rejoined Freimuth for the following set, various pieces by G.P. Cima, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Giovanni Bassano and G.B. Fontana. The two played together like twined thread tracing the patterns of the music. Repetitions and variations rose and fell like conversations between friends.

A short intermission marked the turn of the century as the second half comprised in part Sonatas from the 18th century by Corelli and Andre Cheron. Baroque flute and theorbo replaced the softer renaissance instruments, renaissance divisions gave way to Baroque ornaments. Again the partnership between flute and theorbo was close and active. Cohan’s ornaments sparkled with period brilliance. Beautiful phrasing and gorgeous long lines simply floated over Freimuth’s accompanying bass line supported by amazing breath control.

“La Musette, Rondeau” by Robert de Visee, set between the two Sonatas, was a jewel for theorbo solo, a gentle, expressive lullaby.Then the Cheron Sonata, Gravement--Allemand--Chaconne let the audience dance off into the damp night.

© 2024 Elizabeth Paterson