Saturday, August 31, 2013

Superb Renaissance recorder concert by The Royal Wind Music ensemble at Boston Early Music Festival

The Royal Wind Music at Jordan Hall
One of the very best concerts I heard at the Boston Early Music Festival a couple of months ago was given by The Royal Wind Music, a European ensemble that plays a panoply of Renaissance recorders. By panoply, I mean that the concert featured recorders that ranged from a 12-inch sopranino to a 10-foot plus sub-contrabass.There were at least 30 different kinds of Renaissance recorders on the stage of Jordan Hall (New England Conservatory) played at the concert on Sunday afternoon, June 16th. Some pieces featured all 13 musicians of the ensemble, while other selections required fewer performers. When everyone played the full range of recorders (as in the photo above), they sounded like a soft pipe organ. Only the tallest players could handle the sub-contrabass, which also required a lot of breath-output. The speed, accuracy, and delight with which the musicians played the shorter and higher-sounding recorders reminded me of virtuosity of Michala Petri, except that I was witnessing a whole fleet of Michala Petris! The musicians come from eight different countries, but they all studied at the Amsterdam Conservatoire, and they are led by the Paul Leenhouts, who founded The Royal Wind Music and is currently Professor of Music Director of Early Music Program at the University of North Texas .

The Royal Wind Music ensemble specializes in music written between 1520 and 1640. The group's program at the Boston Early Music Festival, entitled "Angeli, Zingare e Pastori: Symbols and Allegories in Italian Renaissance Music", featured works by composers, most of whom I probably haven't heard before: Alessandro Orlogio, Innocentio Alberti, Simone Molinaro, Vincenzo Ruffo, Girolamo Cavazzoni, Tarquino Merula, Gioseffo Guami, Jacopo Corfini, Paolo Agostini, Ascanio Trombetti, Giovanni de Macque, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Orazio Vecchi, Salomone Rossi, and Giovanni Maria Trabaci. The only two familiar names were Andrea Gabrieli and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. All of the pieces were memorized and sometimes Leenhouts played an instrument rather than direct. Many of the pieces were originally written for voices, but have been arranged by Leenhouts. Some of the works had a more prayerful or angelic (Angeli) sound, others were more playful and dance-like, which suggested the shepherds (Pastori). I don't recall any piece that suggested gypsy (Zingare), but it must have been in the program. Overall, I was elevated by the perfection of music-making and the music of this ensemble. It would be really terrific, if they could visit Portland some day.

1 comment:

Lorin Wilkerson said...

If they sounded anything like Michala Petri that's high praise indeed!