Early Music Vancouver

Ensemble Galatea

Curious Inventions:Virtuoso Music from 17th century Italy

Director: Paul Beier

Performers: Monika Huggett, violin; Bruce Dickey, cornetto; Paul Beier, lute & chitarrone; Richard Savino, baroque guitar & lute; Gianluca Capuano, organ

Giovanni Buonamente: Sinfonia Quinta Sonata Quarta Sonata Quinta Claudio Merulo: Canzona for two lutes Biagio Marini: Capriccio Ballo Secondo Sonata Quarta "per sonar con due corde" Giovani Palestrina: Prelude-Vestiva colli Io son ferito ai lasso Io son ferito Dario Castello: Sonata Seconda Francesco Corbetta: Sinfonia Giovanni Fontana: Sonata Undecima

Venue: University Chapel, University of British Columbia Date: 14 March 2003

Reviewer: Lois Carter

The brilliance of the late Renaissance in Italy not only attracted men from all over the continent but also exerted a powerful influence on aristocratic society, art, and writing. The most important type of composition at this time was undoubtedly the madrigal, foreshadowing the advent of Baroque music.

Tonight's concert highlighted virtuoso 17th-century Italian music and in particular the art of diminution (shortening the time value of a note) which was by then already a mature art form.
The instrumental sonatas by Buonamente were a delightful opening to both the first and second parts--the cascades of sound like a bubbling brook, clear and exuberant. Not only was the extent of each player's individual expertise evident, but their ability to work as an ensemble was also enthralling.

In the Canzona for two lutes the soft raindrop plucking created a therapeutic atmosphere, each lute held by the player as if in a tender embrace, in turn enveloping the listener in utter tranquility. Monica Huggett (violin) was at ease with both the music and her technical ability. Her artistry was fascinating to watch and she produced diminution to well nigh perfection.
The Cornetto which may have originated in Britain in the 11th century is a small wooden horn with its tube either straight or slightly bent and its tone blending easily with the human voice. It remained popular both in and out of church music until c.1750.

Bruce Dickey gave a humourous explanation of its history saying that the Cornetto has never evolved. His performance in both ensemble and solo were for me one of the highlights of the evening, and his playing can be described as simply exquisite.

Another highlight was the chamber organ, a five-rank instrument acquired by Early Music Vancouver in 2001 and played by Gianluca Capuano, organist at the Basilica of San Simpliciano in Milan.

The contribution Early Music Vancouver brings to Canada's cultural life is invaluable. The standard of ensemble in tonight's concert was first class in every way. The performance was well attended, and the programme was received with great adulation. I hope they will be invited here again.

© 2003, Lois Carter