Friday, February 2, 2018

Ensemble Barrocade and guests in "El fuego del amor" - Baroque and Latin-American music

Soprano Daniela Skorka (photo: Nira Yogev)
“El fuego del amor” (The Fire of Love) Ensemble Barrocade’s recent concert, created a meeting point for Baroque- and folk music. Soloists were soprano Daniela Skorka, countertenor Yaniv D’Or, mandolin players Jacob Reuven and Mari Carmen Simon (Duo 16 Strings), harpsichordist Yizhar Karshon and two members of Ensamble Folklorico Latinoamericano - Claudio Cohen Tarica and Natan Furmansky.This writer attended the concert on January 27th 2018 at the Kiryat Yearim Church, Abu Gosh.

The program offered great variety. In his performance of Alessandro Grandi’s monodic “O quam tu pulchra es” (Song of Songs), Yaniv D’Or gave subtle expression with tasteful ornamentation to the changes within the text. His exuberant reading of Vincenzo Calestani’s lighthearted amorous “Damigella tutta bella”, with its stirring ritornellos, was given solid instrumental support...a nice recorder solo, too on the part of Adi Silberberg, whose soloing and improvisations featured throughout the concert.
‘Maiden, all-beautiful, pour, O pour out that sweet wine; make fall the dew distilled from rubies.
I have in my breast an evil poison deeply emplaced by Love; but I would cast it out and leave it immersed in these depths.
Maiden, all-beautiful, with that wine you do not satisfy me; make fall that dew distilled from topaz.
This new flame burning me more, may it burn my heart anew; If my life is not consumed, I will count it (my good fortune).’
Countertenor Yaniv D'Or (photo: Nira Yogev)
The vocal centrepiece of the first half of the program was another secular work - G.F.Handel’s chamber cantata “Tra le Fiamme”, probably composed in 1708. The dramatic story of Icarus flying with the wings of feathers and wax his father Daedalus had made him and approaching too near the sun for his own good, is an allegory of a man lured by love, deceived by a pretty face and flying “among the flames”. Daniela Skorka addressed and involved the audience as she sang with great naturalness and beauty of timbre, weaving the colorful text, blending with the players, hanging onto the occasional dissonance just that moment longer and showing the course of events as they spiralled into the final  frenetic aria with its busy passagework. The work offers an effective variety of instrumentation and a prominent part to the viola da gamba (Amit Tiefenbrunn). The scaled-down scoring  in recitatives created a sense of intimacy. Threaded in between the vocal works were some fine instrumental pieces - the well-travelled Florence-born lutenist/composer Carlo Arrigoni’s courtly Sonata for two mandolins and basso continuo (Mari Carmen Simon, Jacob Reuven) and Portuguese composer and keyboard virtuoso Carlos Seixas’ Harpsichord Concerto in A-major. Seixas's music, influenced by the German Empfindsamer Stil,  belongs to the transitional period between Baroque and Classical music and showcases a range of musical styles. Displaying Seixas’ idiomatic vocal-like melodies blending into quasi-contrapuntal lines and simple block harmonies, Yizhar Karshon’s playing was alive and skillfully ornamented, displaying a work well written for the harpsichord. And a work probably more familiar to the Baroque music crowd - Tarquinio Merula’s Ciaconna for two violins and basso continuo - with violinists Shlomit Sivan and Dafna Ravid playing out Merula’s entertaining and animated dialogue against a short ground.

The second half of the program took on a Latin-American flavour. For this, the Barrocade instrumentalists were joined by Claudio Cohen Tarika and Natan Furmanski, two members of Ensamble Folklorico Latinoamericano an Israeli-based ensemble specializing in traditional music, in particular from Argentina and the Andes region. Natan Furmanski is the group’s musical director. Italian composer/lutenist Andrea Falconieri was not from those regions, but his “Folias”, published in 1650, preceded many later versions of the later Folias in its radical changes, chromaticism, variety and use of the “wandering variation” (as pioneered by Monteverdi). The work honours a lady of the Spanish nobility. The present performance gave the stage to several of the players soloing or dueting, as the varied scoring and combinations offered much joy in an abundance of timbres. The program went on to offer several examples of the unabashedly sentimental and nostalgic Latin song repertoire, beginning with Yaniv D’Or’s spirited and spontaneous singing of “Marizápalos” an amusing and coarse anecdote about the actress María 'Marizapalos' Calderón, the Spanish Nell Gwyn and King Philip IV's mistress, the tale punctuated by sighs sung by the players. Clearly familiar with this genre (her parents come from Uruguay) Daniela Skorka’s performance of a selection of Latin-American songs was appealing, touching and communicative, as she expressed their heart-on-sleeve sentiments with as much charm as polish. Adding authentic sounds to the atmosphere was the two versatile Ensamble Folklorico artists’ tasteful and delicate playing on a number of indigenous instruments - accordion, guitar and several percussion instruments. Ástor Piazzolla’s “Libertango” (1974) never fails to please, but Barrocade’s rendition was indeed a celebration of the blending of instrumental timbres, of spontaneity and solos. A special feature of this concert was the substantial and hearty soundscape created by the solid group of plucked instruments - mandolins, guitars, theorbo - and the opportunity to hear so many of the players solo and improvise. We were sent off home with a familiar melody played on the Andean pan flute, its otherworldly, mythical sounds transporting us to vast, faraway vistas.

Ensamble Folklirico Latinoamericano (Nira Yogev)

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