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12.7.07

Ionarts in Provence: Soloists of Concerto Vocale

Sackbuts
Sackbuts
Held in the open-air courtyard of the Hôtel Maynier d’Oppède, the Ensemble Ventosum, who are also members of Concerto Vocale and in residence for Orfeo, performed a concert of Renaissance polyphony. Comprised of two cornetts, four sackbuts, positive organ, and theorbo, the ensemble showcased music that could have been heard at St. Mark’s in Venice in the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Cornetti
Cornetti
Highlights of the program included J. S. Bach’s arrangement of the Kyrie and Sanctus of Palestrina’s Missa sine nomine, canzonas by Gabrieli, and Victoria’s Surrexit pastor bonus. To allow for double-choir repertoire, the ensemble was positioned with continuo in the center, and two sackbuts and single cornett player to each side. Overall, the concert was played with a mellow and balanced tone quality that allowed the counterpoint to be heard clearly through the polyphonic writing, where no single voice should attract undue attention. With one instrument per part, this fragile musical balance is easily disrupted, as was the case in almost each piece when a continuo player or sackbut would get lost, or a cornett player would not quite complete an ornament. Victoria’s Surrexit pastor bonus contained the most interesting imitation and was very well played.

This concert provided Festival d’Aix-en-Provence attendees the possibility of experiencing music of the Prima Pratica and of comparing it to forward-looking Seconda Pratica – where meaning of the text leads the music, instead of the other way around – that Monteverdi explores in his madrigals and Orfeo. I think seminal early music revivalist Arnold Dolmetsch would have been keen to attend this year’s Festival.

More reviews from the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence will follow.

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