boston baroque: jewels and discoveries

given that i know nothing about music, my intention for writing these posts were mainly to highlight what moves me the most during these concerts. tonight, it was again Christina Day Martinson and her three violins. Why three? because she was playing Biber’s violin sonatas, and each violin was tuned differently to achieve the various sounds Biber wanted to express (read below for more on this).

Tonight, she was playing Biber’s Mystery Sonata No. 10 (“The Crucifixion”) and Mystery Sonata No. 14 (“Assumption of the Virgin”). In the past, sometimes I found the violin player’s movement distracting. No clue if i more mature now or she was just rightly tuned with the music, but her dancing (in knee-high leather boots) and violin playing were fantastically in unison. The music is quite furious at time and melodic at others.

Christina Day Martinson, (c) WGBH-boston

I wasn’t the only one tapping my feet (silently) along. The other violinist (there were only 2 violins, 2 violas, 1 cello + 1 bass for the night) was also moving her head along (i mention her because even with my totally broken gaydar i’m quite sure she’s a white shirt (and black suit)). You can listen to Ms Martinson play Biber live here . I highly recommend listening to Ms. Martinson and Maestro Pearlman’s explanations regarding violin tuning. She also talked about her background. (I tried to embed the darn thing which wasted my last hour grrr)

Here you can read review of her first cd release (i think 1st, not sure) with Boston Baroque.

So, below are the 2 pieces she played tonight (youtube clips not by her, though i wish tonight was recorded so we can all enjoy her playing and dancing)

But that wasn’t the end of the beautiful music for the evening. The program was called “discoveries” because most of the pieces were new to the audience or to all musicians as is the case with Handel’s “Gloria”, which was discovered just a decade ago. It’s a very intimate piece with only 2 violins, 1 cello, 1 bass, 1 organ, and 1 soprano — Mary Wilson. I enjoyed her singing greatly. So how about Handel with Emma Kirkby to end a truly beautifully baroquy night? (or start of the day)…

part 2.

About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

12 Responses to boston baroque: jewels and discoveries

  1. Eyesometric says:

    This is a very appealing account thadieu, but one thing I must take exception with …. ” know nothing about music “. !!
    By following your musical instincts you are obviously developing a huge awareness of styles, genres, performers and historic aspects. You are also prepared to take time to experience ideas which are new to you and, by writing about them sharing your discoveries with others. So please keep going as you are – it’s really interesting.
    ” totally broken gaydar ” ???

    • thả diều says:

      thanks Eyes :-). i think what i wanted to say also is i don’t qualify to “review” these performances, so my posts are of course just my personal account of these events. But, since you do know about music, can you (or someone) explain to me quickly what’s a “tremolo”? One of the pieces for that night was Monteverdi’s “Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda” where for the first time he introduced “tremolo” or fast repeated notes to illustrate anger and agitation. Prior to that, Monteverdi felt (according to Maestro Pearlman) music was able to express love and was in need of a new language to describe other emotions. What i mean by explain to me is to include a clip if possible with the time stamps where one can see and hear tremolo (perhaps a clip with accompanied music sheets such as this)?? and relatedly vhat are trill and vibrato in the case of voice? :-). I read the various descriptions but they are as cryptic to me as German 😀

  2. Eyesometric says:

    Nice questions TD ! It will take me a while to find the right videos for tremolo ( I do have the time and will enjoy the search) but as for vocal vibrato .. compare the singers in this …. dear Shintaro and friend.

    They sing the same notes but if you put the sound onto an oscilloscope the boy would be very nearly wave-free and the trained adult fairly even waves. These would be the natural vibrati in these voices, although the opera singer would have learnt to control the vibrato for texture and colour. As an example of very wide vibrato listen to almost any singer in their later years ( Callas?) and you will hear a sound which is perhaps less appealing, although the width and use of vibrato is a personal taste. Some singers ( eg. Anne Sophie von Otter) who have a broad repertoire adjust the amount of vibrato according to era so her Nerone from Aix on YT will be often virtually without but romantic roles with. I’m off to search YT !

  3. Eyesometric says:

    As you say, tremolo = repeated notes to indicate an animated or enhanced mood or emotion. Early music tremolo would be repeated notes but in a measured way as in this Vivaldi ..

    More modern music would be more like “scrubbing” with the bow in a less measured way.
    Tremolo can be done on most instruments with varying degrees of difficulty ….. piano — 3.02

    guitar — from the beginning —

    Brass instruments – 1.36

    and, obviously, mandolins

    I’ll be back with, hopefully, sheet music and trills I hope my embedding works!

  4. Eyesometric says:

    Beginnings of vibrato after baroque stringed instruments –
    The most GORGEOUS version of “and He shall feed HIs flock” from Ms Bonney. Period stringed instruments, no vibrato ( that’s the flutter of the left hand which warms the tone by varying the pitch a tiny amount) She uses a subtle ornamentation starting from a trill at 2.24 leading to the cadence ( the chords which tell you it’s the end of the phrase and the most likely place to find an ornament or trill ) Ornaments continue at 3.36, a lovely approach to a trill at 4.09 in the minor key. Another trill at 4.45, notice that they are often preceded by a long note. A fabulous flourish at 5.03. …. try and spot the other trills for yourself now!
    This took me a while to prepare as I was utterly caught up in the beauty of the performance.

  5. Eyesometric says:

    Oops – I was so carried away by the Handel that I forgot the video ! Here –

    Also a score for your ” Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda”

    If you cut to 1.09 you can hear and see the repeated notes – look at the top 3 lines of music, they are the string parts. The 2 lines at the bottom below the vocal are just a keyboard transcription. I think they perfectly illustrate the agitation in the text and then stop at ” sangue” in to the minor key for sorrow.
    I note that civileso has posted more of this opera and you may enjoy comparing what’s there to what you have heard already? and next time you see Ms. Martinson TRY and watch her left hand for vibrato and her right for tremolo 😉

    • thả diều says:

      ah, Eyes, i finally got around to this, still a bit confused about voice and vibrato, on to Ms. Bonney’s video now for trill excercise.

      but i did find easier demonstration via tutorial now for violin: vibrato and tremolo, and i DID watch very carefully and did see her (Ms Martinson’s) left hand doing vibrato and right hand tremolo 🙂

      • Eyesometric says:

        Voice and vibrato. Vibrato is what’s naturally there when we sing, it just needs harnessing and controlling for dramatic effect and colour. The less vibrato the “purer” the tone (boy treble) wide vibrato – think Pavarotti on high C.

  6. thả diều says:

    thanks Eyes, i haven’t gotten a chance to look through you super thorough responses with examples yet, will manage soon 🙂

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