I got several e-mails from the Wig slightly changing this concert; at one point swapping an artiste, at another tweaking the programme. At no point undermining my purpose, which was to hear viol music by two Renaissance composers whose viol music I had never heard before.
In truth, I think Gibbons is the better gig – or at least more to our taste.
The Tye is rather relentlessly somber. But he must have been a spunky chap. Word on the street is that Queen Elizabeth did not like his playing and sent a verger to tell Tye that he was playing out of tune. Tye sent back the message that it was her ears that were out of tune. I’ll remember that riposte for my baroq-ulele playing and singing.
Still, we preferred the Le Jeune, who was new to both of us as a composer and far more upbeat.
Yes, I know that the Wigmore Hall stub (and programme) suggests that Thomas Dunford was playing a lute, but believe me, it was a theorbo.
Indeed, having had my very first baroq-ulele lesson with Ian Pittaway on Wednesday, I was studying Dunford’s work like a connoisseur. A mixture of thumb-inside and thumb-outside playing, with some trill and rasgueado-looking stuff thrown in. Not sure he quite anchors his hand comprehensively, but then that would make playing the whole range of strings on a theorbo a lit of a challenge.
I also found myself fascinated by Dunford’s instrument straps; one for the shoulder (as recommended and now work in progress for my baroq-ulele), but also an additional one upon which he sits for extra support.
Mercifully, I didn’t let all of that geeky stuff detract from my enjoyment of the wonderful music.
The leader, Jonathan Cohen, introduced and discussed the pieces/composers masterfully. He isn’t a charismatic showman, but he comes across as very knowledgeable, very pleasant and inclusive of the other performers, which Janie and I liked. At one point, for example, he invited Sophie Gent to explain the techniques she was using to embellish the relatively simple parts that composers wrote down in that earlier baroque period. She explained herself very well.
Ahead of the Kühnel sonata, Jonathan Manson showed us the detailed craftsmanship of his viola da gamba. He explained that August Kühnel spent some time in England to study music around the time that Manson’s viola da gamba was being made, so Kühnel might have actually seen that beautiful instrument being crafted.
After the concert, the Wigmore Hall had arranged for some jazz in the bar, as they have done in the past but they had (or have not yet) not promoted that idea yet this season. Unsurprisingly, very few people stuck around, but we did, enjoying some 1950’s style jazz piano over a glass.
Janie and I were pleased to see the Arcangelo performers all supporting that jazz initiative after their gig. It also gave us a chance to congratulate Jonathan Cohen in person.
Arcangelo is a relatively new, young early music group; they are very talented and they deserve to do well. For sure, we’ll be looking out for them again.
All the music was wonderful but, as Laurence Dreyfus quite rightly puts it in his programme notes, it is the six part pieces that really stand out.
Listening to them is like peering into a kaleidoscope…[t]he term ‘syncopation’ simply does not cover it
Syncopation – surely not “The Funky Gibbons”? – no, perhaps not. Very soothing music as it happens.
Dreyfus also mentions in the notes that it is so difficult to keep time for these pieces that even seasoned performers can miss their entry beat…
…and indeed he came a cropper himself on one occasion. Dreyfus took it on the chin and they started O Lord In Thy Wrath again.
Indeed, Laurence Dreyfus seems a rather sweet, self-effacing chap. When he introduced the encore, Pavane in F by John Jenkins, the elderly gentleman next to me said, rather loudly, to his wife…
…Laurence Dreyfus smiled sweetly and said, a little louder, directly to the gentleman…
…I liked that.
The Gibbons music reminded me a little of the Corelli sonatas I enjoy so much, but of course these pieces were written so much earlier – incredibly sophisticated and rich sounds for their period.
Wonderful musicians all, Phantasm. Of course they spend almost as long tuning their viols as playing; that’s viol music for you.
I’m thinking I should invest in a good recording of these consort pieces. Glenn Gould is said to have listened to little else at times, but then he was as mad as a bag of frogs, so perhaps not a role model for listening choices.
Still, I loved the Gibbons consort sound and Janie dozed and listened appropriately.