Sunday at 3 pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Portland, the La Stella early music ensemble gave their first of hopefully many performances to come. I did not take notes at the concert, so this is just a quick heads-up about a promising new group.
La Stella consists of five performers:
Zoe Tokar, alto recorder and voice flute
Owen Daly, harpsichord (playing an instrument of his own crafting)
Hideki Yamaya, theorbo and baroque guitar
Max Fuller, viola da gamba and baroque cello
They are all experienced Baroque musicians, and the depth of their expertise showed. The program consisted of very difficult works that required sincere scholasticism and excellent technique. While not quite flawless, as a serious early music fan this concert was one of the most satisfying meals I have had in some time.
In addition to trio sonatas for various combinations by Bach and Telemann, they delved into the early and middle Baroque repertoire for works by composers who are not heard as often, such as Giovanni Pandolfi (1620-1669) and Carlo Farina (1600-1640). Fuller played Marin Marais' langorous homage to his mysterious master, the famous Tombeau pour M'sieur de Sainte-Colombe for viola da gamba. Yamaya presented two toccatas and a corrente for solo chitarrone (theorbo) by Alessandro Piccinini (1566-1638), and in the final 'Paris Quartet' by Telemann all five musicians played, with Yamaya joining the continuo on baroque guitar.
I'm not sure that there are any other small chamber ensembles in Portland who regularly play this type of music at this level, so I strongly hope that La Stella continues in this vein and receives the support that musicians like this so richly deserve from the PDX early music community. They do not have a website yet, but La Stella does have a Facebook page for those interested in learning more about the group or the performers.
NOTE: This is cross-posted at Musical Oozings.