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Poème Harmonique in Spain and Italy

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Read my review published today in the Style section of the Washington Post:

Charles T. Downey, Le Poème Harmonique brings baroque to life at La Maison Francaise
Washington Post, February 21, 2011

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Combattimenti! (Monteverdi, Marazzoli), C. Lefilliâtre, Le Poème Harmonique, V. Dumestre

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Plaisir d'amour, C. Lefilliâtre, Le Poème Harmonique, V. Dumestre
Has classical music become too literal because of performers' reliance on the written score? This was one of the questions posed by the improvisatory playing of the French baroque ensemble Le Poeme Harmonique on Friday night. In the auditorium of La Maison Francaise, Vincent Dumestre, playing the baroque-era lute called a theorbo, led his colleagues in a free-spirited rendition of Spanish and Italian music from the 17th century, rooted in historical research but animated by a more extemporaneous approach.

Through improvisation, pieces melted into one another, dissolving boundaries between works and even in between tunings and starts. Played without an intermission or other distractions, the selection of rather diverse works - dramatic recitatives, solo madrigals, canzonettes and instrumental dances and toccatas - created a sense of timelessness, extended by three lovely encores. Dumestre played the theorbo and baroque guitar with finesse, creating a sound at times so subtle that it almost disappeared, as in the rushing arpeggiation of a toccata by Johann Hieronymus Kapsberger. He was ably seconded by Joel Grare, who enlivened dance pieces by Gaspar Sanz with spiky rhythms on castanets, drums and a bell bumped by his foot. [Continue reading]
Le Poème Harmonique
Vincent Dumestre (theorbo, baroque guitar)
Claire Lefilliâtre (soprano)
Esperar, Sentir, Morir: music by Luigi Rossi, Claudio Monteverdi, Etienne Moulinié, Tarquinio Merula, Gaspar Sanz, Juan Hidalgo
La Maison Française

There was no room for this in the paper, but the three encores that concluded this concert were Tout en montant la place d'arme, a French folk song, also known as La Louison; a Neapolitan version of a Spanish jacarà (recorded on this album); and La rose enflorece, a Sephardic song from the 15th century.

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