Salish Sea Early Music Festival
Winds of the Baroque

Date and Venue Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 7.30 pm 2019 | Knox United Church, 5600 Balaclava St., Vancouver

Artistic Director Jeffrey Cohan Featured performers Vicki Boeckman, recorder; Sand Dalton, baroque oboe, flute and recorder; Jeffrey Cohan, baroque flute; Caroline Nicolas, baroque cello; Jonathan Oddie, harpsichord

Program Boismortier Sonata I in G minor, op. 34, Telemann Trio Sonata from "Essercizii Musici" Vivaldi Cello Sonata in A minor and Recorder Concerto "La Pastorale", RV 95 in D major, Quantz Trio Sonata in C major Boismortier, Trio in D major Telemann Quartett from "Tafelmusik" in D minor

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

Salish Sea Early Music Festival is now half-way through its strenuous, ambitious season of 9 completely different concerts each offered in a dozen locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. Musically varied and consistently accomplished, the programs always delight and surprise. Wednesday’s concert was no exception. Joining regulars Jeffrey Cohan, Caroline Nicolas and Jonathan Oddie were eminent baroque oboist Sand Dalton and Vicki Boeckman, a remarkable recorder player. Virtuoso playing and intense musicality were the order of the day.

Sonata in G minor, Op 34, no.1 by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier was performed by the whole group. The combination of oboe, recorder and flute took some time to settle down, with the oboe over-dominant. That said, it introduced the precise and exact togetherness of the group, such a pleasure all evening, and showed off Boeckman’s exceptional control of dynamics on an instrument not known for loud and soft contrast.

Perhaps because Telemann’s Trio Sonata in C minor was expressly written for oboe/recorder combination, the balance between the two solo instruments was much better. Responsive interplay between the voices and a keen sense of line kept the music flowing.

Turning to a solo work, with accompaniment of course, the program offered Vivaldi’s Cello Sonata in A minor, an expressive piece exploring the cello’s versatility and resonance. Caroline Nicolas transformed from being supporting continuo player to exploring the grave and thoughtful slow movements with care and insight. The two Allegro movements sent her hands shooting up and down the neck of the instrument to as she built a lively give-and-take between the upper and lower registers. Jonathan Oddie partnered her with style and energy.

The deep tones of the cello were succeeded by the very high sopranino recorder, fluttering above the other instruments like a lark. Vivaldi’s Recorder Concerto “La Pastorale” takes the listener on a walk past hedgerows and meadows in springtime when the air is full of bird song. Boeckman’s pristine fingerwork made light of the rapid, high, repeated notes, leaps and trills, creating a delightfully airy and bright soundscape. Sand Dalton, now playing recorder, and Cohen on flute echoed and answered her, drawing pictures of more birds and maybe animals, a duck for sure, perhaps a dog. In the Largo movement for solo recorder and harpsichord accompaniment, set between between the two sparkling allegros, Boeckman and Jonathan Oddie conjured an idyllic pastorale in a lilting Sicilian rhythm.

After the intermission, Jeffrey Cohen and Vicki Boeckman, this time with a voice flute, a recorder in D or large alto, returned to play the Trio Sonata in C major by JJ Quantz.. Quantz was well-known in his time as a virtuoso player and for his treatise on flute playing. The Trio Sonata was a revelation. Far from being a dry and dusty exemplar, it sparkled and moved. Both players amazed in the virtuoso passage work for their skill and for their synchronicity. The voices of the two instruments blended harmoniously in the opening Affetuoso and carried on a spirited dialogue with the continuo section in the 2nd movement. They merged again in the serene and beautiful Larghetto and danced together in the wholly charming, deceptively clear Vivace.

None of this would have been possible without the steady, stylish and imaginative support from Caroline Nicolas on baroque cello and Jonathan Oddie. As unshowy in performance as the principals and their equals in nuance and expression both players helped lift the performances to another level.

The concert closed with another piece each from Boismortier and Telemann, reminding us just how genial and companionable Boismortier’s music is and how superb a composer Telemann was.

In the hands of these artists the alchemy of music, turning inked notes on a page into airy sound, was absolute gold.

© 2019 Elizabeth Paterson