Before my wife Rosemary died (we had been married 52 years) on December 9, 2020 we went to all the Early Music Vancouver concerts, theatre, and dance. I made it a habit to write my blogs with amateur opinions on what I had heard or seen.
The Vivaldi Gloria, Alice Cooper, Igor Stravinsky 750 Elephants
A Vancouver Magazine writer, Les Wiseman years ago told me that you can only write about that which you know. And if you don’t you consult an expert. I did for this:
Another side of that coin is an Argentine saying (I am an Argie) that states that the devil knows more not because he is the devil but because he is an old man. At my age of 80 I am perhaps that devil.
Because my introduction to baroque music in Vancouver was in 1991at the Ryerson Church I place here my devilled documentation.
Yesterday, Friday February 17 I witnessed a lovely Early Music Vancouver concert at Christ Church Cathedral.
It was wonderfully different in that it did not have on the program anything that was truly baroque. It featured The English Consone (my spell check wants to convert that to chicken soup) Quartet. In England they are affectionately labelled The Gut String Quartet.
They played with gut strings (violinists Agata Daraskaite, Magdalena Loth-Hill and violist Elisa Bogdanova all played without chin rests) and cellist George Ross had no endpin on the bottom of his instrument.
What made their performance unique, to the point that I found myself smiling, watching the Consone musicians smile as they played, was their choice of music I had never ever heard before, particularly Haydn’s String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 33 no. 2 “The Joke”.
I would agree with Early Music Vancouver Musical Director Suzie Le Blanc that the Largo sostenuto was the best of the evening. I am sure she would have added String Quartet in E flat major that was the only one Fanny Mendelssohn ever wrote.
I have written here, that to me new music is any music I have not heard before.
A few years ago EMV featured concerts with then unknown composers who were under a rug walked by Bach and Vivaldi. It is in one of them where I heard a Tarquinio Merula Ciaccona. I fell in love with all ciacconas and folias and in my amateur music critic mode I call them the Louie Louies of the early baroque and baroque periods.
From my perch in the organ balcony I found the whole experience a delight to all my senses. The crowd was not as familiar to me as in others but I did spot David Lemon and pianist Robert Silverman.
During the question period I felt smug. I knew the answers to most questions (except for José Verstappen’s, founding artistic director of EMV, complicated one which impressed cellist George Ross when I chatted with him). I knew the answers because I have been friends with Marc Destrubé for many years. He told me that in the 19th century instruments had to be louder to play in the larger venues. The chin rest (invented by Louis Spohr, a contemporary composer to Beethoven) gave the musician more power and the metal strings were louder. Perhaps the same could be said for the cello’s endpin. With the endpin women in the 19th century did not have to play sidesaddle.
Curiously Destrubé told me that with a chin rest he hears the music more in his head.
As for gut strings, few in Vancouver remember who introduced them. I was there.
John Elliot Gardiner - May 13 1980
|With glasses Agata Daraskaite, above Magdalena Loth-Hill, below Elitsa Bogdanova & George Ross|