The Sun Shines In Rainy West Vancouver - An Intimate ConcertFriday, January 20, 2012
|Carol Tsuyuki, Craig Tomlinson, Marc Destrubé, Byron Schenkman, Natalie Mackie |
Photo Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD with Polaroid 1500 ISO Sepia Film
The “excuse” for this concert has an explanation that is quite simple. The three performers were rehearsing for a week in Tomlinson’s house and there may be another one that is simple, too. After the performance Mr Schenkman told me, while glancing with longing at the Tomlinson harpsichord (in splendid black, red and gold), “I love that harpsichord.”
The performance area was an L-shaped living room dining room. I chose to sit on the dining room side for two reasons. For one we were two feet away from Natalie Mackie’s back and I could easily peer into her sheet music. From our vantage point we could see Schenkman’s face and Marc Destrubé full frontal. In most concerts you see him in profile. We could also hear, right there, the concert (and that gasp of air when Destrubé is about to swing his bow) and be able to enjoy all the subtleties of the sound of the viola da gamba.
If you look at the programme you might agree with me that you may have heard music of Rameau and Couperin before. But the others, as my Spanish grandmother would have said, were, “ilustres desconocidos”. All three performers are keen and knowledgeable in music history. In fact Schenkman teaches music history at Seattle University. This all meant that we were given lots (but just enough) of tidbits and useful knowledge on these French composers and their contributions.
Both the music and our audience which included a prominent Vancouver jeweller and an arts patron was a 21st century version of what may have been that of de la Guerre’s this concert also included pleasant chats in the kitchen with nice things to eat and drink. Through it all my daughter appreciated those good things that our city has to offer if one looks.
After the concert, Hilary chatted with Destrubé who enquired about Rebecca and may have been wondering when she will return to these concerts. Since Destrubé has his own children he must know about the “teenage dark ages”!
Of special note for me was Marin Marais’s Sonnerie de Ste-Geneviève du Mont-de-Paris. It’s incessant vamp on the harpsichord (a constant smile on Schenkman) reminded me of the Dave Brubeck Quartet playing Paul Desmond’s Take Five (with that lovely vamp on the piano) and I could imagine that happy hunchback, Charles Laughton jumping up and down, pulling on the bells while the harpsichord’s red reminded me of Esmeralda’s (Maureen O’Hara) red hair.
|Photo from Programme|
Byron Schenkman on the piano
Rossi: Sonata sopra la Bergamasca (Venice, 1622) for two violins and continuo
In that Rossi, Byron Schenkman plays continuo, which means that he is playing the bass parts on his harpsichord. But there is another delightful continuo player, on the cello. It's Nathan Whittaker. Whittaker plays for our very own local and wonderful Pacific Baroque Orchestra. And the video below while lacking in a bit of video quality is quite unusual. This is a core group of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra with Marc Destrubé on the violin.
The Pacific Baroque Orchestra plays The Scaramouche Suite
The instrument used at the Friday concert, is a French Double manual harpsichord that I based on an instrument that was built in Paris in 1769 by Pascal Taskin. The original instrument had a range of FF to f3 (61 notes). I have increased the range to a high g3 as well as adding a note so that the instrument may be used at both high (modern pitch where a=440 hz) and low (baroque pitch where the a-415 hz) pitches. This increase in range to 64 notes is much needed in this instrument as it quite often will be used by Early Music Vancouver or The Pacific Baroque Orchestra one week at low pitch and a few days later will be used by The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra or Vancouver Opera at high pitch. The instrument has a disposition of 2 x 8' and 1 x 4' with a buff rail on the principal 8' register. The two manual keyboard has a typical French shove coupler that engages the upper and lower manuals together.
I measured the original instrument in Edinburgh in 1987 and was able to take a multitude of photos of it at the same time. Overall, the original is still in very good shape, has an incredible tone and a wonderful action. I was lucky enough to spend a week measuring and photographing the Taskin and a few of the other Harpsichords at the Russell Collection in Edinburgh, while the building where the collection is housed was closed off to the general public. On one such day, as the '1769 Taskin' is missing some bottom boards, I had my head, two hands and my camera inside of the instrument photographing internal braces. The curator of the collection, upon seeing my legs oozing out from under the instrument, proceeded to play a huge C major chord that, from my position, was about the loudest thing I had heard to date.
The woods used in my harpsichords are gathered from locations around the world. At the heart of the instruments is the European Spruce used for the soundboards. I buy the Spruce in log form in Mittenwald, Germany. At its thickest the finished soundboards are 4.5 mm thick and at the thinest are 1.9 mm. Other woods include Ebony, Swiss Pear, Yellow Poplar, European Beech, Holly and Basswood. Once after picking through a pile of logs in Germany in the 1990's I was gladdened to see the Steinway Piano manufacturers coming in to pick through what I had left behind.