Monday, April 28, 2008

Italian Music and its Influence on the French

“Italian Music and its Influence on the French” was a concert for those who enjoy the elegance and lushness of Baroque music. Those performing were Uri Dror-recorder, Alexander Fine-Baroque bassoon, Baroque oboe and Marina Minkin-harpsichord.

The evening opened with A. Vivaldi’s (1678-1741) Trio-Sonata in g minor for recorder, oboe and basso continuo, a vivacious work with interesting rhythms and chromatic moments. The different timbres made for interesting listening.

It is not every day that one hears Baroque oboe played in Jerusalem. Italian composer Francesco Geminiani (1687-1762) was a violin virtuoso with a penchant for art collecting that led him into financial difficulties. Fine, born in the Ukraine, a graduate of the St Petersburg Conservatory and today assistant principle bassoonist with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, plays on a replica of an oboe built by Thomas Stainsby junior (London) The four miniature movements of Geminiani’s Sonata in e minor for oboe and basso continuo are each different and technically demanding, ending with a dance-like Vivace movement. Michel Corrette (1707-1795), composer and author of instrumental method books, served as organist at the Jesuit College in Paris. Fine played two movements from Corrette’s Sonata in G major for bassoon and basso continuo. The audience enjoyed Fine’s rich, large legato tone, well contrasted against the harpsichord texture.

Minkin’s continuo-playing is creative and varied but it was also a treat to hear her playing Jean-Philippe Rameau’s (1683-1764) Suite in a minor for harpsichord. Playing on a historical replica of an Italian-style Ridolfi harpsichord (built by Thomas Wolf, Washington) Minkin presented the three movements with boldness, much beautiful ornamentation and fine texturing. The last movement – la triomphante – was truly “triumphant”, with the harpsichord’s forthright sound giving each gesture presence. Minkin also performed the first movement of J.S.Bach’s (1685-1750) Concerto for Harpsichord in g minor BWV 975 (after A.Vivaldi.) Bach’s transcriptions of Vivaldi concerti (and those of other masters) were made during his period in the Weimar court from 1708 to 1717. While condensing the ensemble score on one level, Bach expands it on another, producing an artistic adaptation rather than a literal transcription. These concerti have become a part of the genuine keyboard repertoire. Minkin’s reading of the piece was crisp, articulate, measured and fresh. Minkin, born in the Ukraine and in Israel since 1981, has studied piano, harpsichord, organ and historical performance in Jerusalem and Boston.

The evening featured some very fine recorder-playing. Israeli-born Uri Dror has degrees in Early Music performance from the Hague Royal Conservatory, teaches recorder and edits and publishes music. Playing on a replica of a Thomas Stainsby junior alto recorder, Dror presented Francesco Barsanti’s (1690-1772) Sonata no.2 in C major for recorder and basso continuo. Born in Lucca, but residing in London for many years, Barsanti, an oboist himself, is known for his instrumental music. Dror gave us a detailed, well-ornamented reading of the work, lending humor to rhythmic patterns in the last movement. Minkin added interesting embellishments. Dror, Minkin and Fine also performed Nicholas Chedeville’s (1705-1782) Sonata no. 4 in g minor for recorder and basso continuo from “Il Pastor Fido” which he published under Vivaldi’s name. This beautiful sonata boasts great charm and Dror presented a brilliant and interesting and performance of it. The harpsichord-bassoon continuo was especially effective, adding color to and setting off the Dror’s firm tone very nicely.

I found the venue very conducive to Baroque chamber music. It is am intimate space and has a lively acoustic. The program notes were less than adequate but the program itself was fit for the most royal of guests..

Italian Music and its Influence on the French
Uri Dror-recorder
Alexander Fine-Baroque bassoon, Baroque oboe
Marina Minkin-harpsichord
The Cultures Center, Jerusalem
April 1, 2008–04–05


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