Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Enlightenment" Music

This was a while ago: GH and I heard the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center on December 11 Sunday, at Alice Tully. The program was Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Romantic Sinfonia in C major for Strings and Continuo (1773); Heinrich von Biber's Mystery Sonata No. 10 in G minor for Violin and Continuo, "The Crucifixion" (c. 1674); Georg Philipp Telemann's unusual Concerto in D major for Four Violins (c.1720) and his Suite in G major for Strings and Continuo, "Don Quixote" (c. 1726-30), very picturesque; Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto in G major for Cello, Strings, and Continuo (after 1720) and Johann Sebastian Bach's Concerto in E major for Violin, Strings, and Continuo (before 1730), played the least satisfying of all the pieces in the program.

I particularly enjoyed the playing of Amy Lee, who seemed to secure a rich tone from her violin consistently. Ida Kavafian, who played in most of the pieces, took a mercurial delight in fiendish technique. The young Danish cellist Andreas Brantelid was spotlighted in the Vivaldi concerto, and came off very well. His playing had a refreshing matter-of-factness about it. He carried his boyish good looks with similar nonchalance.

If Baroque, a term borrowed from art history, means bizarre, mannered or excessive, the concert program opined, then it is a term better applied to the period of Monteverdi (c. 1600s) extending as late as Biber (1670s). "The era of Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann," it suggested, "might better be called Enlightenment...." Alas, the popular term "Baroque" has stuck for this period, and so will continue to confuse new listeners.

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