Boston Early Music Festival 2013

Boston Early Music Festival  2013. Overview.

As much as it is nice to perform at BEMF- the most exciting experience one gets by “diving” into the ocean of the events the festival offers.  Concerts of Artists and Specialists and Fringe Concerts series on practically all baroque instruments; exhibitions presented by the instrumental workshops from  USA, Germany, France, and Italy;  an opportunity to purchase well-known and newly discovered music, including rare manuscripts from the international publishers; masterclasses (E. Kirkby-voice, A. Beyer – violin, Ph. Pierlot -viola da gamba, P. Leenhouts- recorder); dance workshops, and , finally,  Baroque operas as the apogee of the festival– can satisfy any taste and curiosity about fascinating times from Medieval through Renaissance and Baroque to early Classical periods of music history.

The main theme of BEMF 2013 “Youth. Genius and Folly” has outlined the “Baroque Cocktail “ Fringe concert program of RaiN’s Parlour (Raisa Isaacs-harpsichord, Nancy Schechter- baroque violin) featuring the solo and chamber music of Italy, France, Spain, and Germany,” English Eccentrics, French Fanatics” by Elizabeth Kenny (lute),  ) ”Singen, spielen, tanzen, trinken”- Hamburg in Handel’s Time by Tragicomedia&Friends (director Stephen Stubbs), flamboyant and original Stylus Fantasticus of the 17th century  of the “Viennoiseries” program by Gli Incogniti chamber group (director Amandi Beyer), and other performances of the festival.

Numerous concerts and other events will compel to prioritize your interest, but doubtlessly, everyone has to visit The Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra with the best, world known Baroque instrumentalists. Initially born for BEMF opera and for the orchestral concerts at the festival – now it is considered as an integral part of the event. Conducted by Robert Mealy, one of America’s most prominent violinists and acclaimed for his “imagination, subtlety, and daring”(“Boston Globe”), the orchestra, as usual, impressed listeners with the clarity of the sound and precision on period interpretations.

The Third Keyboard Mini-Festival (director Peter Sykes) offered unique experience of exploring different sounds of the early keyboard instruments presented and performed on the historical instruments generously provided by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

The series of three recitals, featuring harpsichordists Fabio Bonizzoni (Italy) and Peter Sykes (Boston University), fortepianists Anthony Romaniuk (Australia, Vienna) and Yi-Heng Yang (USA, Amsterdam), and clavichordists Ulrika Davidson (Sweden, Germany) and Peter Sykes has lasted for several hours and introduced listeners to the changes of the repertoire and sonorities influenced by the development of the keyboard instruments from Frescobaldi to Beethoven.

The Sixth Organ Mini-Festival (director William Porter) was completely dedicated to  J. S. Bach in the recital trilogy The Young Bach: Ohrdruf to Weimar; The Mature Bach: Weimar to Leipzig; and Bach the Theologian: Clvierubung, Part III, and performed by W. Porter, Lorenzo Ghielmi, and John Scott  consequently.

The Dance workshops, directed by Melinda Sullivan, marvelously presented stylistically pure French dances in the Chamber Operas by Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphee aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs and challenging Almira choreography with “a stylistic conundrum… of German public theatre, set at a fictional Spanish court, with French-inspired dance music”(C. Copeland). The Ballet Mistress trained attended dancers and no-dancers Baroque and Renaissance dances technique, giving a unique chance for a keyboardist to investigate an employment of a dance articulations in the keyboard music in correlations with the dance steps on its own feet.

The epicenter of the festival – Baroque opera, is the glamorous manifestation of the union of three arts: signing, dancing, and instrumental performing. It  is the “must visit” event, specifically for keyboardists, as it is a well-known fact that initially the basso continue keyboard  players adopted idioms from voice, wind, string instruments incorporating  it into their improvisations and gradually  creating the flourishing later a solo keyboard repertoire.

Following the main theme of BEMF 2013 “Youth. Genius and Folly”, composed by the nineteenth years old Handel Almira (Queen of Castille) was selected as a centerpiece of the festival. Written in Hamburg, mixed with Italian style, and spiced by Spanish accents – the opera is the firework of drama and comedy with an impressive cast of Ulrike Hofbayer as Alimira (Germany, Bazel), an astonishing  Amanda Forsythe as a Princess of Royal Blood (USA), noble Canadian lyric tenor Colin Balzer as Fernando and peasantly humorous Jason McStoots as Tabarco (Folly).  Foretold in Symposia that Almira’s score had saved Handel’s life in a duel with Mattheson, fired up high enthusiasm to the youth’s period composition of the adventurous composer. Sitting right next to the orchestra and stage, it was sincerely enjoyable to observe the acting in the best traditions of the Stanislavski’s system in combination with the superb  signing in Baroque traditions. Sensibly supported by BEMF Opera Orchestra, the magnificent performance left an unforgettable impression on the audience.

-Raisa Isaacs-


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