TAFELMUSIK reviewed by Stanley Fefferman


Sunday, October 22, 3:30pm, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre
FRESH BAROQUE:Tafelmusik’s Brilliant New Talents

Baroque music is a stairway to heaven that rises by orderly degrees, or plumbs the depths with dignified, stately steps. No ensemble conducts these journeys with more precision and grace than Tafelmusik. Mary K. Schauntz, a regular patron had this to say about the FRESH BAROQUE concert:

“The music satisfies a part of me that needs quiet, a certain order, because I tend to be a person who is very intense. I find a great peace in this music. I like it that Tafelmusik is constantly introducing new composers and new pieces that I have not heard, and this is very special. For instance, I enjoyed the new piece composed by Allen Whear. He includes some modern, dissonant elements, but he also has tradtional musical elements like melody and rhythmic pulses for the body to enjoy.”

Other pieces newly introduced were “Overture in G Minor” by John Helmich Roman (1694-1758), and “Overture no. 6 in G Minor” by Francesco Maria Veracini (1685-1768). The highlight of the programme was the premier of the piece entitled “Short Story”, composed on commission for Tafelmusik by resident cellist Allen Whear. Here is what the composer had to say about the piece in an interview.

ALLEN WHEAR: The ‘Story’ in the title refers to the experience of having melodies you’re familiar with from playing so many times flow through you, and in the process the melodies break down and change as you go home after concert and rehearsal. These elements mix in with all the other music you know, and you play around with that process.”
STM: Is there some kind of story or whole that emerged from this process?
AW: It did kind of form itself loosely into a structure, a kind of sonata rondo structure in that I had an introduction, a principal theme which returns, a secondary theme in the dominant key, and I had short developments so it’s very concentrated. I didn’t write it with a form in mind, but eventually the motives kind of took form. That’s the story.
STM: Is it helpful to think of “Short Story” as ‘modern baroque’?
AW: Not really. It’s written for a Baroque ensemble, I use Classical principles of composition, and it has a romantic sentiment. It’s a mixture of all of those things, and that too is the story, I guess. When I was studying cello in school, composers were expected to write in a more academic style to be accepted. Now, luckily, we live in more eclectic times, and now you are free to write a melody and write it in with more strident themes. The other connection with the Baroque is in that time many of the composers were performers, and there wasn’t such a divide between composers and performers and audiences. My idea was to write accessibly for the performers that I know and for the audience that I know.

The program included pieces from the standard repetoire. One was J.S. Bach’s “Concerto for 3 violins in D Major, after BWV 1064” featuring the finely tuned and eye-catching trio of Julia Wedman, Aisslin Nosky & Christina Zacharias. Vivaldi’s “Concerto for bassoon in A Minor, RV 498” with Dominic Teresi had many of the ensemble players grinning with delight. SF

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