Early Music Vancouver
Theatre of Early Music

Dates: 13 August 2003
: Chan Shun Concert Hall, UBC

Reviewer: Elizabeth Paterson





Artists : Daniel Taylor, counter-tenor
Suzie Le Blanc, soprano
Adrian Butterfield, baroque violin


Daniel Taylor is popularly known for exotic, hot-house opera roles. In utter contrast, Taylor and his Theatre of Early Music presented an evening of thoughtful and serene music on the themes of loss and death by J.S. Bach and other 17th century German composers, followed by Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.

Adrian Butterfield opened the programme with an Adagio from Sonata in G minor, BWV 1001 for unaccompanied violin. Excellent playing and a lovely handling of counterpoint couldn't quite overcome what is for me always unsatisfactory - performing a single movement only.

Schmelzer's Lamento sopra la morte Ferdinand III is a musical biography or portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor and was played by the whole ensemble. What stood out most strongly was the wonderful, unified sound. Where the Allegro made the listener look for a second violin, here it seemed as though only one instrument was playing.






Daniel Taylor joined the ensemble for Schutz's chorale, Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott, the loveliness of his voice matching the serene tone of the orchestra. However, he was somewhat difficult to hear, either because he had not yet got the measure of the concert hall or because he had to read and was singing into his book.

Suzie Le Blanc, in Bach's cantata "Non sa che sia dolore," BWV 209 had no such problems. Her voice was pure and clear, her ornaments and phrasing a delight.

The plum of the evening however was found in the second half of the programme with Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's setting of the poem by the medieval Franciscan Jacopone da Todi, Stabat Mater. All reservations about Daniel Taylor disappeared. His voice and Suzie Le Blanc's became a single expressive instrument. The plaintive, drawn out "Quis" opening the verse `Quis est homo qui non fleret' (Who would not weep) was full of aching melancholy. Even more beautiful was the final stanza, "Quando corpus morietur" (When my body shall die), where the instruments pulsed like a slow heartbeat against ethereal voices.

Finally, the diction of both singers in German, Italian and Latin was excellent.

2003, Elizabeth Paterson