Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The "Rubato Appassionato" trio performs 18th century Spanish music at the Hebrew University

The Hebrew University’s Monday noon concert on April 20th 2009 featured “Rubato Appassionato”. This trio was founded in 2000 at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where all members were students; it consists of Antonia Tajeda–recorders, Eyal Streett-Baroque bassoon and Sasha Agranov-Baroque ‘cello. With the ‘cello taking the role of basso continuo, the group performs Baroque music from Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, England and Spain, researches forgotten and little-known works and uses musical fantasy to create variations on works based on aesthetics of the Baroque period.

This particular program focused on anonymous 18th century Spanish music found in libraries and archives. The first part of the program included two sets of dances, to which “Rubato Appassionato” has added variations and, in some cases, a bass line. Sympathetically arranged, with the ‘cello often plucked rather than bowed, melodies moving from recorder to bassoon, the dances were presented appealingly with luxuriant color and verve together with performance that was the epitome of good blending and accuracy. Nice touches used with taste and charm were the use of leg bells, a few dance steps here and there and the occasional use of a drum, as well as other effects, such as “flatterzunge” (a birdlike warbling effect produced in the throat) by Tajeda on the recorder.

The trio’s performance of an anonymous bagpipe piece included a drone moving from ‘cello to bassoon, with much conversation between instruments. A whimsical effect was a rising glissando of the bagpipes filling with air at the outset and the gentle falling of pitch at the end, as the bagpipe sack emptied.

The concert ended with Variations on “La Folia”, a veritable tour-de-force mostly for the recorder but also for the other instruments, each variation presenting different textures, various levels of excitement or tranquility and much energetic, virtuosic playing…and never at the expense of good taste.

All members of “Rubato Appassionato” are making careers in Europe and each artist has an interesting personality; I would go as far as to say there is an underlying theatrical dimension within the trio, providing an element which is fresh and youthful. This, coupled with well researched work and highly competent playing, makes for interesting performance and hearty enjoyment.

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