|Newsletter Issue 38 - October 2009|
|Written by Richard J Milner|
|Monday, 16 November 2009 09:34|
The exciting news is that Paolo Pandolfo, one of the World’s greatest viola da gamba players, is coming to give a solo recital at the Four Winds Festival next Easter. Even better we have a seat already booked for you! All you have to do is to enrol in the 2010 AVDGS Easter Viol Workshop which we have relocated to the beautiful coastal resort of Bermagui so we can see and hear Paolo in person. We are still negotiating with him on the topic of workshop(s) and more information with be sent as soon as we have it. In the meantime please make your arrangements to come to Bermagui. The brochure is now out and is being sent with this newsletter. The reason we have the brochure out so soon is that we know accommodation in Bermagui could fill up well before next Easter and so we urge you to make your plans soon.
We also have our new web page up and running at avdgs.org.au so take a look and let us know what you think. We are still building it and so some items are not yet there. We have a ‘members only’ section which will be used in the future for lists of members and access to recent newsletters and Chelys Australis. I am keen to increase the music available for download and so if you have music you have arranged for viols and would be willing to share please send it to me as a pdf file or hard copy.
As usual we have news from the web, a technical tip about the pitch of viols, news of new CDs including one on the Forqueray family, news from the USA and UK and more.
Easter Viol Workshop - 2010
Message from the Musical Director
I am delighted to tell you that we are having the 2010 Easter Viol Workshop in Bermagui. The workshop will run concurrently with The Four Winds Festival, artistic director Genevieve Lacey. We will have preferential booking and reserved seating in the front of the amphitheatre for the only concert appearance in Australia of one of the greatest viol players of our time, Paolo Pandolfo, and we are at present negotiating with him to do a session at the Viol School. However as the programme for the 4 winds has not yet been announced, we have been asked not to publicize this exciting happening before the launch of the Four Winds Festival in November.
Miriam Morris is directing the workshop with fellow tutors Sarah Mead (USA) and Polly Sussex (NZ), also Victoria Watts if numbers allow. Sarah lives and works in the Boston area and was the 2007 winner of Early Music America's Thomas Binkley Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Collegium Director, she is Associate Professor of the Practice at Brandeis University, where she directs the Early Music Ensemble and is a frequent guest choral conductor. Polly Sussex has been overseas for an extended period studying with both Hille Perle in Bremen and Paolo Pandolfo in Basel. It will be exciting to be able to share in her experiences.
The workshop will be take place at Bermagui Primary School, which is in George Street, north of the river. It will be vital to book accommodation well in advance. I suggest that you get on to this very soon as accommodation is booking up fast. The following contacts have good online sites or alternatively, Google Bermagui holiday rental accommodation where you will find lots of additional information. There are caravan sites and the options of cabins, units, apartments and holiday houses.
Hill First National Bermagui
Looking forward to seeing you all at Easter,
Here is some more information about our tutors:
Victoria Watts is an active Melbourne musician and a member of the viola da gamba ensemble Consort Eclectus. Originally from Sydney, Victoria studied viola da gamba with Ruth Wilkinson at the University of Melbourne graduating in 1995. She has recorded Music for Viols & Voice with Consort Eclectus and El Fuego with La Companions (ABC Classics). Victoria is administrator of the University of Melbourne’s Early Music Studio and the Spring Early Music Festival.
Viols on the Web
Many people are able to edit and print music these days using readily available music typesetting programmes which are free like Lilypond and Noteworthy Composer or fairly expensive to buy like Finale or Sibelius. Most of us just do it for our own use, others are happy to make them available through not for profit web pages such as Werner Icking. I have made the downloads of music easier to find and use on our new web page and I urge you to try them out. These have been generously provided by Ruth Kelly and I am keen to include more from Ruth and anyone else who would like to submit them. Send them to me either as hard copy or as pdf files.
The Pacific Northwest chapter of the Viola da Gamba Society of the USA have a number of pieces arranged for viols freely available from their web page (http://www.pnviols.org/SheetMusic.html). They include a beautiful arrangement of the Faure's 'Pie Gesu', a rare pavane and galliard by Thomas Morley, as well as music by Palestrina, Victoria, Scarlatti, Martha Bishop etc.
There are an increasing number of semi-commercial sites offering interesting music arranged for viols for sale. These are often hard to find and I was delighted to recently discover 'RipMeister Publications”. This is the work of Daniel Rippe who is also avery fine viol player ( see his CD FORQUERAY, A.: Suite No. 1 in D minor / BALTZAR, T.: Divisions on a Ground in G major / LAWES, H.: Among Rosebuds, Centaur CRC2685, see http://www.classicsonline.com for sound excerpts and purchase). The music is very well presented with excellent prefaces. His catalogue is small but most interesting:
Thomas Baltzar - Divisions for Bass Viol
Christopher Simpson - Divisions in A Minor for Two Bass Viols
The Vocal Viol
Vivaldi for Viol Consort!
Antonio Vivaldi - Concerto in C, arranged for Two Viols and Keyboard
As She Sings - Traynor Competition Winner for viol consort, by John Anthony Lennon
Motet: O Magnum Mysterium / Hodie Christus Natus Est - Four-part vocal music by Mark Rippe
J. S. Bach - Chorale-based Works for Two Viols & Keyboard - Volume 1
J. S. Bach - Chorale-based Works for Two Viols & Keyboard - Volume 2: Chromatics!
Louis Couperin - Music for Viols from the Bauyn Manuscript
Three Tune Settings for Solo Bass Viol (unaccompanied) by Daniel Rippe
We will have a review of some of these publications in the next newsletter. In the meantime, check out his web page at /www.ripmeister.com or follow the links for our web page.
Technical Tip – what pitch is your viol?
As a relative newcomer to viol playing I have always been intrigued by the fact that viols are always tuned to A415. So I was most interested to find this question posed some time ago to the VDGSA news in their “Ask a Viol Teacher' section.
The first response came from Herb Myers. He said “ The adoption of A=415 as the “official” viol pitch is a fairly recent phenomenon, having come about since 1970 with the adoption of low-pitch woodwinds among the serious aficionados of baroque performance. Standing a semi-tone below modern pitch, A=415 itself represents something of compromise, since the surviving winds are rarely at exactly that pitch; however, its advantages as a modern low pitch standard outweigh most of the disadvantages, particularly because of the convenience of shifting keyboards of many modern harpsichords. That one's modern gamba might easily be made to play at an even higher than modern pitch is not surprising given that modern consort viols are, in fact, smaller than those typical of the Playford era. “
It is sometimes said to me that viols sound better or work better at A-415, but I think this is probably because the string gauges used are chosen for that pitch. This leads to another areas of concern – can we tune our viols up a semitone to play at A=440 for use with recorders etc. at that pitch? Again this is a controversial subject. Herb Myers says:
“Contrary to one popular myth, it is not deleterious to an instrument in good condition for it to be tuned up and down to different pitches. How long it takes to 'stabilise' at the new pitch varies considerably, depending on several factors: the type of strings, the instrument itself and – especially – how one goes about retuning. The most efficient procedure is to somewhat overshoot one's goal (I.e. tune a little too high when going up and a little too low when going down) and then waiting several minutes before carefully bringing the instrument to the intended pitch.” Prepare the viol in advance if you know this is going to happen. David Dreyfus wisely notes that you should check the bridge as it may move away from vertical. Having some lead pencil on the bridge helps make the string slip without moving the bridge.
The use of a capo is also discussed and this can work well, however the non-standard curvature of the fingerboard necessitates a custom made and fitted capo.
For a historical discussion on pitch and the problem of defining an historically correct pitch I recommend you read Otterstedt' s book “The Viol” page 171 – 173. She makes the point that in Britain the viols were usually kept and played in the same house and so each house could well have its own pitch! The organ would provide a standard but we know little about the pitch of those small house organs. Praetorius remarked that the English were fond of a low pitch - perhaps a fourth or fifth lower than 'chamber pitch'. In fact, many renaissance ensembles play today at A-440 and perhaps the viol community should join them?
More Reviews of Danny Yeadon's Bach CD
Bach; Complete Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord; Daniel Yeadon &Neal Peres da Costa; ABC Classics 4763394.
1.From the Newsletter of the Viola da Gamba Society of America
Johann Sebastian Bach. Complete Sonatas for Viola de Gamba and Harpsichord. Daniel Yeadon, viola da gamba; Neal Peres da Costa, harpsichord. ABC Classics, ABC 476 3394; Australian Broadcasting Corporation, p2009. 1 compact disc.
I found the recording technically flawless; the sound is very clear and warm. The CD was recorded in Goossens Hall of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Ultimo Center, which proves to be an excellent space for harpsichord and viol. The contrasts between Mr. Yeadon's creative phrasing and articulation and the beauty and subtlety of Dr. da Costa's expressive touch on the harpsichord come across clearly. Eighteenth-century opinions about Bach that characterized his music as exhibiting "a turgid and confused style" are contextualized in Dr. da Costa's program notes, which paint a positive and complex picture of the tastes and trends that surrounded the compositions of these sonatas. For audiences who are not aware of the viol, da Costa briefly outlines the development of the viol family and the role that the viol plays in Bach's compositions of his Leipzig period of 1739-1750. He also goes into detail about interactions with gambists such as Carl Friederich Abel and Ludwig Christian Hesse, as well as formal analysis of the individual sonatas themselves.
While many of us probably own several recordings of Bach's sonatas, this is an interesting and compelling addition to collections of different interpretations of these artful works. Yeadon and da Costa's energetic and sonically rich interplay makes us hope to see many more collaborations between them.
2. From Early Music News – The Early Music Society of NSW
In today's terms, around 43 minutes is a relatively short CD. If Bach were more considerate, he'd have written a fourth sonata. In fact, I like and am sympathetic with the quote (1737) from composer and critic JA Scheibe, which introduces the booklet's notes but you'll either have to buy the disk, or look up Scheibe in Grove to read it!
Viol players will no doubt keenly applaud the recording of these Sonatas, BWV 1027, 1028 & 1029. Daniel Yeadon has emerged as a gamba high-flyer, probably leaning more toward the instrument now than in his predominantly baroque cello days with Florilegium. His musical compeer, Neal Peres da Costa, needs no introduction to either a historic keyboard, or a period performance audience.
However, I think you will have to look hard and listen carefully to find a better rendition of these sonatas. One is also heartened by the fact that the ABC is supporting Australian early music performers at a time when both the classical shelf space and the number of classical music retailers appear to be diminishing.
Consort Days – Sydney and Melbourne
Sydney -On Saturday September 12, 2009, six viol players met at Jenny Eriksson's studio in Putney, Sydney, and were tutored in two of the Coleman 6 part fantasies – numbers 3 and 5 from the PRB edition. The music was sent out in advance, however we found it to be quite challenging and so decided to start as 3 duos – trebles, tenors and basses. The later in the morning we combined and were able to play through both pieces. We got to know them quite well but I do not think we managed a 'concert standard' of playing by the end of the day.! As a bit of variety we also played "I have entreated" by John Ward, a wonderful 6 part madrigal which fitted the viols well. As usual we had a wonderful lunch based on everyones contributions and as the weather was very good we were able to have it in the garden.
Early Music Summer Workshop - Ironwood
3-9 January 2010 Shoreham, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Be inspired by the music of the Baroque and Classical periods with fabulous tutors, great music making and great food, in amongst the vineyards and stunning beaches of the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Bookings are now open for the EARLY MUSIC SUMMER WORKSHOP in the beautiful Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Simply download the application form from our website at: http://www.ironwoodchamberensemble.com/education.html and return by 11 December, with a special offer to the first 10 applicants.
Who can apply?
1. Printed Music
The Five- and Six-Part Madrigals of Thomas Weelkes (1600) will be published for voices and viols in two volumes, edited by Julie Jeffrey, editor of our edition of the Six-Part Fantasias of Charles Coleman.
THE FORQUERAY FAMILY Chamber Music for harpsichord and viola da gamba. Magdalena Malec, Christoph Urbanetz, Sara Ruiz Martinez, Soetkin Elbers. Brilliant Classics 93802 2cds price: £5.87 £5.10 ex.VAT ( available from MTD Classics - http://www.mdt.co.uk)
Michel (?) Forqueray (1681-1757): Prélude de Forcroy
Antoine Forqueray (1672-1745): Suite in D minor
Michel Forqueray: Musette “N’espère plus, jeune Lisette”
Antoine Forqueray: Suite in G
Antoine Forqueray: Allemande
This 2CD set aims to give the listener a good idea of the range of music composed by a remarkable musical dynasty, the Forqueray family. They were a family of organists, viol players and harpsichordists. They were every bit as remarkable as the other great musical dynasties, the Bendas, Stamitzs, Bachs, and the Strauss family. The most famous member of the Forqueray family (their Johann Sebastian) was Antoine, who was born in 1672, a virtuoso gambist. His output forms the backbone of the French repertoire for this instrument. None of his music was published during his lifetime, and his son Jean-Baptiste (born 1699), another viol player, devoted his time to publishing his father’s works. Michel, born in 1681, and Nicolas-Gilles, born in 1703, were superb keyboard players. This set offers a rare chance to hear the music of all four composers, centred around characterful suites for harpsichord and viole da gamba but including songs.
News from USA and UK
The new web page is announced and is well worth a visit. The music downloads are much improved and include Martha Bishop's edition of all the Jenkins 5 and 6 part consort music, as well as Bruce Bellingham's analysis of the Ferrabosco consort music. There are quite a number of educational videos which are strongly recommended including several on aspects of bowing. The links are also most valuable.
Martha Bishop is strongly featured as she has finally retired after 29 years as conclave director! As a retirement gift she was presented with a CD containing 8 pieces written by Martha Bishop which some 20 members had spent the last 3 years working on. Her successor is Sarah Mead ho will be our guest overseas tutor at Bermagui. It is a great privilege to have her come to Australia.
There is a piece about the 4 winners of the Traynor competition 2009 complete with photographs of the composers and the first page of their pieces. Besides Patrice's InNomine 'five”, the winners were 'As She Sings' by John Anthony Lennon, 'O Magnum Mysterium' by Donald Reid Womack and 'Serenade' by Jean Henderson.
New CDs reviewed include one, written by Elizabeth MacDonald, of Les Voix Humaines playing the Purcell Fantasies (ATMA ACD2 2591). On this recording , they are played on the so called 'Hart House Viols'. This is a set of 6 viols owned by the University of Toronto and housed in the Hart House Gallery. Up until now they have been very rarely played and never recorded. They are apparently all old and very fine though their provenances are unclear. One treble is thought to have been made by Henry Jaye, and another (alto or tenor) made in 1598 by John Rose II. They are currently valued at over $0.5 million. The reviewer says the 'instruments sound beautiful and the recording has been done with great care and good balance'. These fantasies have been recorded frequently previously and clearly Les Voix Humaine were keen to differentiate their recording from those already available. One element was these wonderful old viols but also the music is 'highly ornamented and makes the listener feel at times as if there is hardly anything left untouched'. Also they use ' lots of inegal'. The reviewer has mixed views on this, she accepts that it is 'beautifully worked out among the voices' but adds that the extreme dotted rhythms 'sometimes creates an unpleasant accent on the short note' . Furthermore 'a few times they choose to sustain an organ-like texture and, when they did, it was ravishing.' In conclusion she says ' Les Voix Humaines are certainly unafraid to be adventurous and different from other interpreters of the Purcell pieces for viols, which is good reason for connoisseurs to sample the CD.' The CD can be downloaded as an MP3 file from http://www.classicsonline.com
Another of Les Voix Humaines CDs entitled 'Humori. Carnival and Lent: The Theatre of Humours' (ATMA ACD2 2504) is given a most favourable review. On this recording they are joined by 6 singers as well as a cornetto, violins, harp, lute and percussion in a prgramme of madrigals, chanson etc by Vecchi, Monteverdi, Lassus and others. High quality music and first rate performance make this CD enjoyable on multiple hearings.
Music reviewed include a book of 3 part arrangements of Dowland's lute music for tenor treble and bass viols (Cheap Trills TR62), a trio sonata for 2 viols and continuo by Graun (Guntersberg, G131), 3 part airs for trebles, bass and continuo by John Jenkins (PRB VCO71) and music for viol and continuo by Pfieffer and Schutz again in Guntersburg editions G144 and G140.
Stephen Pegler has provided 3 maps showing the distribution of members in Britain. The Society has a total membership of 527 with 147 of them overseas including 8 from Australia. Interestingly only the USA with 36 and Germany with 23 has more members than Australia!
An article by Ander Arroitajauregi Aranburu concerns some interesting viols illustrated in a wall painting from Austria dating from about 1536. In these viols, the treble leg of the bridge is extended down through a hole in the top of the instrument to act as a soundpost! This type of bridge/soundpost is apparently 'not uncommon' in Eastern European instruments and also ones from South America.
Another article is the first of a series on viol makers and is on Michael Plant written by Shirley Plant. Apparently Michael has a brain disorder which means he has lost all manipulative ability and speech. He stopped making viols about 6 years ago. His first viol was made from a treble kit purchased from the Early Music Shop in 1973. His most frequent model was based on a Mears bass but he made a great variety of models. He found word of mouth and exhibiting at the London Early Music Exhibition to be the best way of getting commissions. He apparently underpriced his viols as he 'wanted his viols to be affordable' however apparently this led some players to regard is instruments less highly. 'Happily there are owners who pride them dearly and know their worth to be ten times that of a list value.'
Sydney Conservatorium Early Music Ensemble – an update
The EMEers have had a busy second half of 2009 exploring choral works by JS Bach and Vivaldi with Sydney Chamber Choir and guest conductor Graham Abbot; then with indefatigable director Neal Peres Da Costa at the helm, we had our first foray into music of the classical era with CPE Bach, Mozart, and Haydn’s ‘Farewell’ Symphony. The baroque program with Sydney Chamber Choir included JS Bach’s Magnificat and Vivaldi’s Gloria at City Recital Hall on September 6. About four weeks into the second semester, this public concert was a first on early instruments for many of the students involved. Introduced to a baroque violin or viola or cello at the first rehearsal, string students then had between 8 and 12 rehearsals to gain familiarity with these early instruments. They did so doing so with great success. The results were astounding and the concert was an absolutely peak performance experience for many of the students involved.
Anthony Hamad, winner of the Early Music Concerto Competition for 2009,directed the orchestra from the harpsichord in one of Haydn’s keyboard concertos in the classical program, in Verbrugghen Hall on October 10. Exploring new ‘early’ instruments is part of the fun for string students who join the Early Music Ensemble each semester, and this time they were most accomplished using classical bows and experimenting with an array of historically-informed techniques. The semiquaver passages that fly up beyond third position on the violin in CPE Bach are never easy, but were conquered magnificently without scaffolding – that is, without chin rests or shoulder rests. The concert was recorded for later broadcast by ABC Classic FM. Megan Lee very ably led the orchestra, with Annie Gard leading for the Haydn concerto.
Tutors Danny Yeadon, and Nicole Forsyth are at most rehearsals, and during this year we have had the help of Matthew Greco, who led the concert with Sydney Chamber Choir and is a now a graduate of the very first EME from 2005. Matthew is planning to work and study baroque violin at postgraduate level. We currently have an expanding cohort of students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, studying early instruments as their major, or taking elective semesters on historical instruments. These include baroque violin, baroque/classical viola, classical clarinet, traverso, baroque/classical oboe, baroque bassoon, natural trumpet, natural horn, viola da gamba, recorder, lute and harpsichord/fortepiano. These students play in EME during the course of their study, and enhance greatly the depth and background for those students coming across from their modern instruments and who are doing EME as a first time ‘taste’ of historic performance practice.
Recent developments in the Con Early Music Unit include the expansion of the instrument collection to include a consort of viols, recorders and more harpsichords; setting up ongoing viol and recorder consorts; collaborative projects with the Royal College of Music in 2010 and 2011; expansion of early music into the Open Academy program; expansion of teaching staff within the Unit. All of these and the general expansion of the Early Music Unit are thoroughly supported by the Dean, Kim Walker. EME has one final concert for the year – November 11 at 1.10pm in Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Involving mostly early music major performance students, this will showcase the recorder and string students performing Graun, Heinichen, Telemann and Marais. We hope to see you there!
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 February 2010 06:28|