|Newsletter Issue 44 - Autumn 2011|
|Written by Richard J Milner|
|Thursday, 10 November 2011 09:48|
The recent Easter Viol Workshop was a great success with a good number of enrolments and an excellent team of tutors led by Katy Finnis with Ibi Aziz as the overseas tutor. One of the features of recent workshops has been the excellent talks and I am happy to share with everyone some brief extracts which I made using my recordings made at the time. The final issue of Chelys Australis was published and so in future book reviews will be put into this newsletter. We start with an extensive review of Peter Holman's major work on the viol in the UK after Abel by Katy Finnis. One of the most important events for amateur viol players in recent years was the vast collection of viol consort music in pdf files put onto the Werner Icking Music Archive by Al Folop. What I did not realise until I read the VDGSA news was that the files also contain source files in Personal Composer. You can download a copy of this program for free and thus you can edit these pieces very easily – to change clefs, transpose etc.
The AGM was held during the Easter Workshop and the details are published here – President's report, treasurer's report and the draft minutes. Finally have a look at the new publications and the concert diary in case you see somethng interesting. As always I welcome feedback and would love to include some classified adverts – if I had any!
|Easter Viol School||7968.15|
|Easter other income (PP concert)||254.20|
|Sales of merchandise||439.90|
Cost of sales
|Total Cost of Sales||1923.63|
|Tutors travel expenses||392.05|
|Tutor’s and EVS other expenses||1498.31|
|Postage and office supplies||263.20|
|Domain name fee||20.00|
Balance in Westpac Account Bearing Interest 31/12/2010 was $5250.53
Balance in Westpac Maxi-Direct 31/12/2010 (Development Fund) was $1647.22
As anticipated, it was more expensive having the Easter Viol School at Bermagui, and the expenses were higher than is usual for a school in a capital city. We should have lower expenses in Sydney. In 2010, we did not make use of the Development Fund, which gained $30.91 in interest.
Meeting opened at 12.50pm
Present: Victoria Watts, Richard Milner, Rosaleen Love, Allison Balberg, John Cunninghan, Chris Twidle, Glennis Morton, Ibi Aziz, Jo Baxter Fielding, Laura Vaughan, Roger Buckton, Gay Peek, Helen Alajajian, Diana Ford, Catherine Finnis, Laura Gibb, Rachel Walker, Liz Zetzmann, Andrew Parkin, Ann Kanaan, Sasha Routh, Bethan McDonald, Laura Moore, Rebecca Willis and Cathy Upex.
Apologies: Polly Sussex, Malcolm Lawn, Ruth Kelly, Lyn Hawkins, Peter Hawkins, Rhona Lever, John Weretka and Reidun Turner.
Minutes of the 2010 AGM were provided. Allison Balberg asked that the spelling of her name be corrected. Bethan McDonald and Helen Alajajian asked to be added to the list of those present.
Minutes were approved; moved Liz Zetzmann; seconded Allison Balberg.
President’s report - Report was accepted; moved Richard Milner; seconded Helen Alajajian.
Treasurer’s report -Report was accepted; moved Laura Vaughan; seconded Rebecca Willis.
Election of office bearers
Office bearers stood down then were re-elected. Victoria Watts is president again; moved Rachel Walker; seconded Ann Kanaan. Richard Milner is secretary again; moved Liz Zetzmann; seconded Brooke Green. Rosaleen Love is treasurer again; moved Barbara Williams; seconded Catherine Finnis. The current office bearers strongly encourage other AVdGS members to nominate next year and to relieve them of their positions.
Proposed members of the new committee: Polly Sussex, Danny Yeadon, Laura Gibb, Laura Moore, Malcolm Lawn. Reidun Turner probably wouldn’t be included because she is in Switzerland. Moved Barb Williams; seconded Richard Milner.
Future locations for EVS. Proposed locations are Melbourne in 2012, a New Zealand city (probably Christchurch or Dunedin) in 2013 and Canberra in 2014. Hobart should also be considered in the next five years. Patrice Connelly has proposed Brisbane as a location and would do the work of organising the EVS in that year, should it be held there. New Zealand members present also felt they could organise the EVS in New Zealand, with information and support. The difficulty of transporting instruments was raised.
A show of hands indicated that of the members present, 25 would go to New Zealand for a future annual viol school, either at Easter or at another time of year; 20 would go to Brisbane. One person preferred that a future EVS be held in Brisbane; 27 preferred Melbourne. Canberra presented difficulties because Easter coincides with the national folk festival held there.
Inclusion of New Zealand members
The suggestion was put that AVdGS become ANZVdGS and that New Zealanders be charged membership fees in New Zealand dollars. It was discussed that AVdGS could indeed introduce a reduced, overseas membership rate.
Other viol workshops
The idea of other workshops in adition to Easter was proposed. Such a workshops could be themed to make them different from the EVS. Sheet music could be posted out ahead of time.
The suggestion was made that instead of holding the EVS in New Zealand, New Zealand players could organise a separate viol workshop to be held in New Zealand at a time other than Easter and then invite Australian players. The objection voiced was that a second major annual viol workshop in the region would reduce attendance (and therefore revenue and the ability to hire tutors) at the EVS because some people would not or could not travel to two workshops in a single year. The suggestion of additional workshops in Australia, such as over a long weekend in October, met with the same objection.
Victoria Watts will send out a list to EVS 2011 attendees of all attendees’ names.
For future EVSs we could consider sourcing scores for popular pieces of music or compiling them on computer. Alan Milne offered to compile them.
The committee will consider what to do with the money in the development fund. One possibility would be to offer a scholarship to the EVS for a young person who could not otherwise attend.
There being no further business, the meeting closed at 2.03pm.
Easter Viol Workshop 2011
The 2011 Easter Viol workshop was a great success. As a previous participant and observer of the entire weekend, I was able to witness the benefits of what the workshop had to offer. The workshop this year was based at the MLC School in Burwood, Sydney. This location was very convenient as it meant that all groups and tutors could be based within the one building.
This year we were, as always, provided with an amazing group of tutors to share their knowledge and expertise.
Our 2011 Musical Director, Catherine Finnis, was well supported by a strong and enthusiastic group of tutors. Laura Vaughan, Brooke Greene and Jenny Erikson were extremely generous with their time. And who could forget our fabulous Ibrahim Aziz from London who added an extra bit of life to the weekend.
The workshop ran exceptionally smoothly due to the incredible organization of Victoria Watts – we have her to thank for the cohesion and flow of the weekend.
New ideas were introduced into morning consorts. This involved keeping the same consorts together for each morning. I believe this experiment was a great success as it helped introduce ways of developing rehearsal techniques.
Overall, the workshop was well received by all participants. “One of the best!”
For me this was a wonderful blast from the past as well as being something of a restart for me in Australia.
I am so grateful to, and proud of, my student of many years ago Victoria Watts, who has gone from strength to strength in promoting and maintaining interest in the gamba and who asked me to be musical director of this year’s Easter viol school.
In the event, my role was so happily augmented and enriched by the presence of Ibi, Laura V and Laura M, Brooke and Jenny as well as Karen, Patrice and all the participants, that my lack of experience in this department hopefully went un-noticed!
Thank you all so much and I’m now thinking of what we can do in Adelaide.
1. Improvisation and ornamentation in consort – Laura Vaughan
The issue of ornamentation in Consort playing –what is interesting about this? Ornamentation was really, really important throughout the 16th and 17th centuries I don’t tend to add much when I play consorts I wanted to learn more about it!
In "A performer's guide to Renaissance Music”, Bruce Dickey tells us that of all the performance practice issues which must be taken into account when we are playing music of earlier times, perhaps the one with the most potential to radically affect the sound of the music is improvised ornamentation. Divisions (also known as passaggi or diminutions) are the type of ornament that is most relevant when we play consort music - in fact, divisions really make up the bulk of ornamentation throughout the 16th century. The art of division consisted of substituting the long notes of a written melody with passages of rapidly moving ones, maintaining more or less intact the contour of the original line by touching on the main notes of the melody at their beginnings (and usually at their ends). Just as with modern Jazz improvisations, the art of division was learned first by memorizing patterns and then combining and recombining them in countless ways. While playing, the performer often needed to mentally ignore any passing notes and instead reduce the melody to a series of basic intervals which might then be replaced by the memorized patterns. Just like in Jazz, the "improvised" material would thus partly consist of memorized patterns and partly be spontaneously created, according to the ability and experience of the musician. In his baroque vocal treatise, Pier Francesco Tosi instructs that every singing student should practise divisions assiduously, beginning with stepwise figures and proceeding to the most difficult intervals; an hour a day was insufficient for even the quickest learner.
Essentially, the art of making Diminutions, or divisions, or passage (these terms are almost interchangeable) is an Italian one, or, is at least an art that was best documented in Italian sources. All of the treatises that contain the handy “cheat sheets” I’ve mentioned were published in Italy, so why, you may be wondering, am I talking about them in relation to ornamentation our super-English consort repertoire? The reason is that links with Italy were very strong in England during the late 16th century in, where all things Italian were pretty fashionable. A great example of this is our boy John Cooper, who Italianicised his name to Coprario. Giovanni Bassano (another publisher of a diminution handbook) had several cousins living in England working as instrument makers during the later 16th century, it seems pretty reasonable to think that his ideas about ornamentation, and specifically his ornamentation manual, travelled to England as well.
We can see further evidence of this Italian legacy in the 1659 treatise of Christopher Simpson, the Division-Violist. This treatise includes one of the earliest printed tables of graces (ornaments such as trills, rather the divisions), which arguably could represent some of the graces that were used in the viol consort repertoire. You could try adding one of the figures Simpson suggests to your consort part occasionally, and just see what it sounds like. In part 2 or this treatise, Simpson gives instructions for what he calls ‘breaking the ground’ which are very similar to the Italian diminution treatises, with suggestions for adding divisions between different intervals and for different cadential figures. It is quite clear that the Italian school of passaggi and the English school of division viol and violin are very closely related.
Ortiz had some great advice in 1553 for starting out with ornaments on the viol, and I thought it would be nice to share some of his pearls of wisdom: “he who wishes to take advantage of this book must consider what ability he has and accordingly choose the embellishments which seem best suited to him; because even if the division is a good one, it won’t seem good if the hand cannot manage it, and the fault will not be in the music. This book shows the way in which notes are divided, but the grace and effects which the hand has to execute are created by he who plays sweetly so that the music comes out first in one way, then in another, mixing in some deadened trills and some passaggi; where the bow hand does not strike every note but pulls the bow smoothly, and the left hand creates maximum harmony (holds). When there are two or three crotchets in a bar, only the first is articulated, the rest pass under the same bow stroke…”
Getting back to some general comments about ornamentation, just how much improvisation or ornamentation was judged appropriate, of course, depended on the listener, the kind of music being played, the venue, and above all, the taste and skill of the performer. Treatises of the period abound in conflicting evidence on this subject, and good taste is always invoked as the ultimate arbiter. Us modern performers can feel a bit ill at ease with this apparent discrepancy between word and deed in the sources. Dalla Casa is a great example of this, in that he warns us in his preface to "far poca roba ma buona" ("make few things but make them good") and then proceeds to follow this comment with some 45 pages of the most elaborate divisions of the 16th century. What do we make of this contradiction? Is his warning merely a conventional call for restraint with no real meaning? Are the written-out divisions exaggerated to impress his colleagues? Or is OUR taste radically out of touch with that of the 16th century?
It is for this reason that I, personally, am re-evaluating my approach to ornamentation in playing consort music, and I am encouraging you to think about it and experiment yourselves. The addition of some simple divisions is within the scope of all players, with a little thought. It is probably safe to say that for all the pieces that are based on dances, especially those forms with repeats like Pavans, Almains and Galliards, that the addition of divisions, most especially on the repeats, is completely appropriate, in fact eminently desirable. For the venerable body of Fantasias, the issue is a bit less clear. In terms of how people perform this music today, I very rarely hear much ornamentation added, but considering the overwhelming importance of ornamentation in music generally during the 16th and 17th centuries, this lack is something that I personally question.
List of useful treatises / handbooks of divisions
Sylvestro Ganassi Fontegara (1535)
Diego Ortiz Trattado de glosas (1553)
Dalla Casa Il vero modo di diminuir (1584)
Bassano Ricercate, passaggi, et cadentie (1585),
Riccardo Rognoni Passaggi per potersi essercitare nel diminuire (1592)
Aurelio Virgiliano Il Dolcimelo (1600)
Conforti Breve et facile maniera...a far passaggi (1593 or 1603)
Bovicelli Regole, passaggi di musica ( 1594)
Francesco Rognoni Selva de varii passaggi (1620)
2. Purcell – Katy Finnis
I should know a lot about Purcell as I have played a lot of his music including Dido and Aeneus for 1 year(!) but not a lot of his consort music – just 3 or so pieces I think. We do not know much about Purcell (no letters or diaries), we do know he was born probably at the end of 1689. He is an elusive character – perhaps because he was conventional, married with children. The story of being locked out seems implausible.
He was the son of a Henry Purcell who came from Buckinghamshire in 1630s to sing in Charles 1 choir. What happened to the musicians after the execution of Charles 1 and the dissolution of royal music patronage? Soldiers broke into Westminster Abbey and burnt the altar etc. Charles 1 was a great lover of music and employed composers such as Thomas Tomkins, Henry Lawes, Giovanni Coperario, Robert Johnson and Orlando Gibbons. The civil war forced the Royal court to Oxford where the music did continue but when the commonwealth started in 1642 many musicians survived only by joining city waits or being employed in wealthy households.
I have read about 20 books on Purcell. One of the best was written by Keats and is absolutely great with many anecdotes and it's like a mind map, I enjoyed it very much. Purcell was born just before the restoration, however I was trying to find some background for him. His father died when he was 5 and he was brought up by his uncle Thomas. Oliver Cromwell was a lover of music and allegedly played the viol. Music continued but was a little 'underground'. Composers at this time included Henry Lawes, Henry Cooke, Matthew Locke and Charles Coleman. As the famous quote from Roger North says: “Many preferred to stay home and fiddle to going about and being knocked on the head abroad.”
So how was he writing viol consort music? Charles 2 rode back into London in 1660 and took over the reins of the monarchy and the Royal Court re-established. In 1661 Purcell's father joined the choir of Westminster Abbey. At least 10 viol players (including Jenkins, Hingeston and Coleman) were given back their jobs at the restoration, but they were not replaced if they left or died. Marin Marais was 3 when Purcell was born. The family lived in Westminster probably in the great almonry. Henry Lawes lived for a while next door. In 1664, his father died and the young Henry was taken into the choir of the Chapel Royal. (The uniform is still the same!). Purcell was taught by Henry Cooke and then by Pelham Humphrey. He was assiduous in writing out the music by the renaissance masters such as Tallis and Palestrina, Gibbons. He was made organist and assistant to Hingeston at Westminster Abbey, at an absurdly young age replacing Blow who stood aside for him.
“London the Biography” by Peter Ackroyd is a wonderful book I found and shows that London at the time was a bustling metropolis. The plague in 1665 entered London through the docks from Holland and in 1666 the fire raged through London. But its spirit was not destroyed. During Purcell's lifetime Charles II died, James II came to the throne, Mary and William of Orange came to the throne and Purcell provided music for all of that. It was a tumultuous time. In June 1680, Purcell found himself with nothing to do for 20 days and so wrote the first 7 of his 4 part fantasies. We do not know where he was, but it is likely that he found a quiet retreat at Windsor. He was 20 and about to be married to Frances Peters. Why did he write them? Maybe as an intellectual exercise a bit like doing the crossword puzzle, Peter Holman thinks so. The viol had fallen out of favour but the violin was in favour – imitating the French 24 violins. King Charles II could not bear viols! Perhaps Purcell was offended by the triteness of the prevailing French and Italian styles and aimed to write something more intellectual. The fantasies are in manuscript 30930 rests in the British Museum. He seems to have intended to write a sequence for 3 up to 8 parts but not all were written. There are 18 fantasias all together. They embody his own delight in counterpoint in its most gestic (?) form and his struggle for perfect execution. He loved technical display. The fantasias do not seem to have been copied and circulated around the viol world as were those of Lawes, Jenkins and Coperario. Only one set of parts are found in other publications. The baroque counterpoint of JS Bach was about to be born and so these works are the last flowering of the pre-baroque counterpoint. So an era ended to be revived in our own time by Britten and Tippett – the new Orpheus Britannicae.
3. Charpentier and the Viol – Ibbi Aziz
Charpentier (1643 – 1704) was one of the finest baroque composers of the 17th century. A very versatile composer who had a great reputation for his vocal music – pastorals, operas, airs and more importantly his sacred music. Unfortunately he was overshadowed by Jean Baptiste Lully who dominated all others around him – he was not a nice personality. Many think Charpentier was the finer composer. Charpentier was born in Paris and tried to champion the Italian style in France.
Charpentier had an excellent musical upbringing primarily from his grand tour – he lived in Rome from 1666 studying with Carrisimi who wrote many fine vocal compositions. Charpentier returned to Paris and was employed as house composer to Marie de Lorraine, Duchesse de Guise, who was known familiarly as "Mlle de Guise." . They were a very powerful Catholic household who liked to be different. The court of Louis 14th was the main musical establishment, however the Guise's deliberately put themselves at odds with whoever was in power. So while the court wore wigs and colourful clothes, the Guises would not have wigs and wear dark clothes. Louis 14th had the 24 violins but no violins oboes or bassoons were allowed in the Guises, they liked flutes, recorders and viols. If not for this we would have missed out on some very fine compositions from Charpentier. It seems that for the 15 years he was at the Guise's house, all Charpentier's compositions included viols, at least in the continuo. But also often treble viols replacing violins in his operas. In France, unlike the rest of Europe, the treble viol remained in favour long after the demise of the viol consort. Compositions written in France in the 1680s (after the Purcell fantasies were written) often were said to be for treble viol or violin or flute.
Charpentier was a singer and wrote mostly vocal music so left us very few instrumental compositions. He directed his music as a singer (countertenor) from the stage. There is a fragment of an unacompanied solo for viol which is a very fine slow gigue. He also left a sonata in 8 parts for 2 violins, 2 flutes, gamba, basse de violin, theorbo and harpsichord. It is a fantastic piece with each instrumental group having sections like an instrument cantata. The main piece is a suite in 4 parts for viols as stated in the title. The tutors then played the Prelude form this piece. The 4 lines are very simple and beautiful showing his prime command of harmony.
Charpentier was fanatical about keeping everything he wrote, music letters etc and these are now kept in the Paris Library in 28 volumes. These include detailed instructions as to how to play the music. The last movement of the suite in 4 parts – on the top line the treble has stems pointing up and down, also you have 'first bass alone' then you have 'ensemble' and in the bass 'everyone'. On the last line he has the bass solo – and he writes 'second bass'. Clearly they were playing more than one viol per part which explains how they were able to use viols in opera with viols playing orchestrally.
That is my talk – do go and find the 4 part suite in 6 movements is available on line ( see http://imslp.org/wiki/Concert_pour_quatre_parties_de_violes,_H.545_(Charpentier,_Marc-Antoine) at Petrucci.com. Also you can download an MP3 recording by William Christie and Les Ars Florrisants ( Charpentier-Divertissements-Airs-Concerts) It was to be played by everyone not just professionals.
“Life after Death: The Viola da Gamba in Britain from Purcell to Dolmetsch” by Peter Holman, 2010, 394pp, Boydell Press, Suffolk, UK.
This is a marvellous book.
Peter Holman’s scholarly collection of research by himself and many others pre- Purcell up to post-Dolmetsch times, pulls together and illuminates pockets of exotic information that excite, amuse, and at all times inspire the reader to follow the trails to further knowledge and delights. In friendship for gamba player Mark Caudle and in answer to his questions, scholar-performer Holman has researched the Dark Ages of the viol/viola da gamba to find out what did happen to it after the death of English viol consort music in 1680 and before Arnold Dolmetsch and his family spear-headed its re-emergence into some sort of limelight.
It has always been alleged and assumed that the viol died in Britain along with the consort genre, when the violin swept into fashion during the 17th and early 18th century, and certainly it did fall out of favour in the Church and at the Court of St. James. However ‘The Art of Playing it has never died out in this Country’ was an assertion made in London in 1889 by Edward Payne, refuting the commonly held myth that Arnold Dolmetsch was solely responsible for the late nineteenth century revival.
Holman finds an unbroken stream of evidence for the constant presence and activities of not only gamba players and composers for the instrument, but also the all-important instrument makers, the copyists, the engravers, the publishers, the amateur players, the collectors, the archivists, the patrons, the music sellers. In doing so he presents the reader with a dazzling array of personalities. We learn much about Godfrey Finger, George Frederick Abel and his friend the painter Thomas Gainsborough, James Watt the inventor, the furniture-maker and Moravian Brethren acolyte gamba maker John Frederick Hintz, female viol players (more prevalent in Scotland because of its more conservative culture) such as Ann Thicknesse and Griselle Baillie, Elisabetta da Gambarini. Of course we are lucky that Mrs Thicknesse’s husband Philip, ‘the soldier, writer and adventurer’ wrote about her in his biography of Gainsborough, affording proof that she was learning to play the gamba in 1740, ‘at a time when it was at a low ebb’. Ann Ford as she was known before her marriage was notable for putting on concert series, with both ‘Professors’ and ‘Amateurs’ at the Little Theatre in the Haymarket and then at Cox’s Auction Room, and was clearly a woman of substance, unusual as it was for an upper-middle-class female to perform in public, ‘partly to be admired & partly laughed at at every Tea Table’ as Gainsborough put it.
Research has been undertaken with a vigour and enthusiasm that carries all before it. It would seem that Holman has seen with his own eyes a copied manuscript of a Marais viol part that has fingerings added in blue pencil in addition to ink ones from the original, indicating that it was a part that had probably been played from. His appetite for cross-referencing is insatiable and his findings are confident, delivered in a direct and robust style.
Thus the first sentence of the Introduction is up there with the first sentence of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, in terms of confidence and impetus. Where one was never quite sure how the viol family evolved, where and when and how, we now know, probably without a shadow of a doubt, that it ‘It is now generally accepted that the viol family came into being in the 1490s…’. The five footnotes on that very page one incorporate research and primary sources, using such rich words as frottola, Isabella d’Este, musicologique, and the main text starts as it means to go on, taking the time to translate short passages and quotations as well as identify them by name and date. From that moment on the book romps forward, answering all the questions one is tempted to ask. No sooner does one wonder who might have played Handel’s gamba music than Holman asks the question “Who played Handel’s gamba parts?” and starts on a forensic search of all the possible candidates, arriving after an exhilarating ride at… David Boswillibald. (There is no mention however of Handel’s virtuoso aria ‘Tra le Fiamme’ in the list of composers’ works which include gamba, which might be an omission. If so, it is surely a rare one.)
We might always have wondered for whom J.S.Bach’s gamba music was written and why, and suspected that it was Abel the younger. ‘Life after Death’ goes into the question at some length, examining evidence from, as always, many sources listed in the footnotes and concludes with some definition that Abel would have been in Leipzig at the time of a performance of a late version of the St Matthew Passion and when the recently dated three sonatas for gamba and harpsichord were composed. Holman presents so much evidence for any of the informed guesses that he makes that we trust him completely. We form a vivid idea of Abel’s personality and reputation as well as general European history, explaining why Abel came to England to live for thirty years, along with his business partner Johann Christian Bach. What a mighty figure in the musical world Charles Frederick Abel must have been for Charles Burney to write that ‘The instrument is now as dead as this great musician and seems to have departed this life at the same time’.
The link between the gamba in early music as new music and ‘the early music movement’ is drawn at about 1832 in Paris when Francois-Joseph Fetis gave his first ‘historical concert’ closely followed by some ‘unidentified individuals’ using ‘obsolete instruments to play old music’. And Holman concludes that Arnold Dolmetsch provided ‘a heady new career model’ to the developing early music movement in Britain because he was a professional, trained musician working in the mainstream, and the first of the new scholar-performers who dominated and continue to do so, the early music scene.
Peter Holman (harpsichordist-director-scholar) wears his scholarship incredibly lightly and it is the book’s eminent readableness that is so attractive. While being scrupulously academic in presentation, attributing wherever attribution is due and constantly referencing, it effortlessly incorporates witty details and anecdotes. We learn that Carli Zoeller who was a collector of music manuscripts and composer ‘died on 13 July 1889 after a fall from his horse during the Military Tournament at the Agricultural Hall in Islington.’ Some might say ‘too much information’ but not this reader. There are one or two surprising statements, such as ‘It has been asserted that the gamba was a male instrument at the time…’ and another refers to an ‘old woman’ playing the viol in a painting of 1743-6, but we know what Holman means and forgive him.
Maybe this is not a book to be devoured in one sitting. But it is a book that one can refer to whenever one wants to be inspired by some simple superb scholarship and evocative writing. It contains many lists of compositions, rival players, instruments and instrument makers (these gleaned from auctioneers’ catalogues, notably Sotheby’s). There is a section of black and white illustrations, including a curious photograph of a pair of instruments by Hintz, courtesy of Sotheby’s, both with strings missing. There is a huge Bibliography, six pages of Editions of Music, surely a gift to players, students and musicologists, publishers and purveyors of sheet music, and an Index that covers everything in the text. There are musical examples too, but Holman never falls into the trap of dissecting them. The description of concerts and concert series, as well as benefit concerts rings bells today as news on Facebook is that Holman’s daughter Louise has arranged a benefit concert of ‘The Messiah’ for the marvellous, invaluable musicologist Clifford Bartlett, who like many another musician before him finds himself in straitened financial circumstances, through not being paid…
I recommend that all early music buffs and lovers of the gamba and violoncello make sure they acquire this book. It is worth its not inconsiderable cost for the sheer exuberance of its erudition. And it makes it all very easy for newcomers to the game of ‘Performing music upon the original instruments for which it was written’! Maybe there is more to unearth and discover, but enthusiasts have a lifetime ahead of them of happy, informed listening, practising, and playing in camera or in public, on the basis of what is within the covers of this marvellous book.
Adelaide, 15 June 2011.
This review is written with constant thoughts of my friend and colleague Richard Campbell who would have written it so much better.
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Ibi Aziz as interpreted by Richard Milner
Our wonderful overseas tutor at the recent Easter Viol Workshop, Ibi, gave us many tips but one I found telling concerned the left hand. He said that often our finger tips are too far from the fret – they should touch and perhaps overhang a little. When one looks at the nomal angle the finger appears to be on or over the fret, however looked at from in front (by bending down or better using a mirror) it can be seen to be a mm or two away. Keeping the thumb relaxed and opposite the second finger helps. Something to watch out for particularly with the fourth finger I think.
Viols on the Web
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750 ) - Sonatas for viola da gamba
Sonata I, BWV 1027 01 Adagio 02 Allegro, ma non tanto 03 Andante 04 Allegro moderato 05 Preludio (improvised) 06 Komm, süßes Kreuz (Recitativo & Aria, Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244)
Sonata II, BWV 1028 07 Adagio 08 Allegro 09 Andante 10 Allegro 11 Es ist vollbracht (Aria, Johannes-Passion, BWV 245)
Sonata III, BWV 1029 12 Vivace 13 Adagio 14 Allegro
About this CD
Fifteen years on from his earlier recording of Bach’s three Sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord (on Harmonia Mundi, alongside Rinaldo Alessandrini), Paolo Pandolfo is now returning to this repertory with a thoroughly-rethought approach, the fruit of active and concentrated years of consideration, study and research into the inherent possibilities of his instrument. Given the basic differing natures of these two instruments, the performance of these works very often turns – in Pandolfo’s words – into a “musical argument”, rather than what is demanded by the music’s essential nature: a “musical conversation” in which the score achieves “transparency and eloquence”.
For this exercise in interpretative discourse Paolo Pandolfo has found a suitably-engaged musical mind in harpsichordist Markus Hünninger, a friend for many years and a teacher, like Pandolfo, at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. The resulting disc has a very personal flavour to it, reiterating the uncompromising sense of quality in all that the Roman gamba player does. Following on from his essential recordings of music by Forqueray, Hume, Marais, Sainte Colombe and Abel, he is now rounding off on Glossa his own particular vision of Bach, which he commenced in 2000 with the recording of the now-legendary Six Suites.
To complete the disc there are two vocal arias with obbligato viola da gamba drawn from two of Bach’s Passions, in which Pandolfo is joined by two leading early music singers of recent times, the countertenor Michael Chance and the bass Harry van der Kamp.
Purchasing MP3 Downloads
Do you like to buy downloads of CDs for your ipod or MP3 player? If so you should be aware that different sites may charge very different amount for the same CD. itunes for example often have the widest range but also are the most expensive. The recent CD of Byrd Consort Music by Phantasm can be downloaded from the Linn site for $13.00 as 'CD quality' (cheaper for a lower quality), while 7 Digital have it for $12.20, HMV Digital for $12.20 and itunes for $16.00. Amazon also have it for $8.99 but this is only available to people living in the USA (however there are ways around this!). A more widely available CD is the Phantasm recording of Jenkins 6 part consorts which on iTunes is $16.99, on Amazon $8.99, Classics on line $9.99, Classical Archives $8.99, HMV Digital $12.20and Trade Bit for $8.99.
Sounds Baroque - Hercules – a modern day early music super hero
Can the average twenty first century child relate to classical music? Is opera is an irrelevant art form? Will school kids die of boredom if forced to sit through a performance featuring ancient instruments such as the viola da gamba and harpsichord?
Establishing answers to these questions is important for the future of fine music in general and early music in particular. Anecdotally, one hears and reads all the time that interest in and support for classical music is waning and that in many schools children get little or no formal music training unless their parents pay for private music tuition. Where do we go from here? Unamplified and dangerous.
Truth, however, is stranger than fiction. For the past 20 or more years the Music Viva in Schools ensemble “Sounds Baroque” has toured to schools the length and breadth of New South Wales proving the “death of classical music” pundits wrong. We perform up to three times per day in packed school halls and under shade shelters armed with no more than two sets of vocal chords, a harpsichord and a viola da gamba. We travel without amplification equipped with simple fold up sets that fit into the back of a station wagon alongside the harpsichord. Yet our cut down operas, which are carefully designed with music education principles at their core, are consistently rated by teachers as amongst the very top of all the Musica Viva in School’s ensembles. Often we outrank our more musically “hip” Musica Viva in Schools colleagues much to the amusement of all concerned!
As a professional musician trained both as a teacher and as a performer all this goes to prove that “music is music” to infants and primary school children – even ancient music played on ancient instruments. Good music presented by fine artists in a manner suitable for the age group will always be well received. Through our performances thousands of children have heard operatic style voices, the harpsichord and the viola da gamba for the first time on THEIR school premises not in a concert hall a long way away from home. I can’t remember how many times we have invited young pianists in the audience to come up and play the harpsichord and witnessed the joy on their faces as they hear a completely different sound coming out from under their fingers. Similarly, many youngsters have held my treble or Pardessus viol for the first - and perhaps the last time – and drawn the bow across the sheep gut strings.
History of Sounds Baroque
Harpsichordist Paul Dyer of Australian Brandenburg Orchestra fame originally came up with the idea for Sounds Baroque and asked me to be a founding member. We had both recently returned from several years of post graduate work in the Netherlands. Incidentally, I am the only person currently in the ensemble from those early days. Paul and I had studied music education at Sydney Conservatorium and were very comfortable in applying music education underpinnings to a classical music presentation. Sounds Baroque’s membership has changed and evolved over the years but our repertoire has always consisted of appropriately edited and arranged baroque operas.
I’ve often been asked why I have stayed in Sounds Baroque for so long and the answer is “I love it”. Playing professionally to adult audiences has its own special joys but children are more honest than adults. If they like something they show it immediately. If they are bored they fidget. If you present something that is not age appropriate they look puzzled. If you stage a silly “sight gag” they howl with laughter. For the performer there is nowhere to hide.
A new opera from old material
But back to super heroes. During late 2010 we commenced developing our fourth operatic show. This time we chose to work on “Alceste” by the great French Baroque composers, Jean Baptiste Lully. I am especially fond of Lully as Marin Marais, the namesake of my other ensemble, “The Marais Project”, performed in Lully’s orchestra at the Court of Louis XIV. Marais subsequently also went on to compose operas alongside his more well known works for viola da gamba. We have in the process renamed Alceste “Hercules” to give it some super hero energy. Chris Berensen, a fine harpsichordist who accompanied viol players at the last Sydney Easter Viols School, and I arranged the music. Sydney writer Natalie Shea wrote the script and direction was provided by Robert Jarman. This was the first time we hired a professional director to shape the production and Robert Jarman’s insights have lifted us to the next level. Along the way he has also taught us to act – well almost! The show even contains a “Rap” written to order by the well-known Sydney-based composer Dan Walker and accompanied in performance by the decidedly un-cool harpsichord and bass viol. Finally, the production designer is Tobhiyah Stone Feller, an up and coming recent NIDA graduate with great ideas. Bundanon residency.
It is a measure of Musica Viva’s commitment to fine music in schools that they arranged for Sounds Baroque to take up a prestigious education residency at Bundanon Trust in March 2011 with the aim of helping us to give the production a final touch up. The properties of Bundanon and Riversdale are the artist Arthur Boyd’s gift to the nation. Bundanon homestead sits near the Shoalhaven River south of Wollongong. Cattle graze quietly in the paddocks while the river drifts gently by. The Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Centre, designed by Glenn Murcutt, stands majestically overlooking the Shoalhaven River at Riversdale.
During the week we rehearsed “Hercules” and presented it to several groups of local school children in order to get feedback from the people who matter the most – our young audience. On the final Sunday of our residency we gave a public community concert to a “full house” in the gorgeous Glenn Murcutt building sitting in front of a huge Arthur Boyd painting. After we had performed harpsichordist Anthony Abouhamad and I “sat in” with the young string students from Sydney Grammar and Ascham, also in residence at Riversdale that week, as they played several baroque numbers including two pieces from our “Hercules”. Many of the photos we took can be found at The Marais Project Facebook site.
Future directionsAlongside myself Sounds Baroque’s membership consists of Anthony Abouhamad from "The Marais Project" and singers Narelle Evans and Michael Warby. “Hercules” will tour New South Wales infants and primary schools for Musica Viva for at least the next five years bringing the unique joy of baroque music to a new generation of students and teachers. Adults are always welcome at our performances so if you hear that Sounds Baroque is coming to a school near you please drop by and introduce yourself to us.
And don’t forget, children LOVE baroque music, they just don’t know the love it until they’ve heard it! They love it even more when they get to participate in the music making and that is what we are about.
News from the UK and USARichard Milner
The VDGS Summer Meeting will be held at Chichester on Saturday June 11. The meeting will feature a concert by the Rose Conosrt with Ibi Aziz. They will give a concert of music from the Dow partbooks (Tallis, Byrd, Parsons and Tye) with Rory McCleery (countertenor). They will also provide music for a church service on the Sunday and coach consorts in the afternoon. The talks on Saturday are by David Mateer on the Dow Partbooks – contents, Philip Taylor on the meaning of Byrds consort songs, John Bryan discussing 5 part consort pavanes, and by Andrew Kerr on arranging music for lute or keyboard for viol consort.
The October meeting will be in London and will feature Peter Holman, Mark Caudle and others. Talking about the viols 'later life'.
Articles in the Spring 2011 The Viol include:
- Alison Kinder – Is Christopher Simpson Old fashioned , or should he be considered as pioneering?
- David Wilson – Barock me baby: reaching out to new audiences for the viol in Thailand.
- Peter Holman – Writing 'Life after Death'.
- Eitan Hoffer – Making a baroque viol bow (with lots of photos!)
- Susanne Heinrich – Broken Strings – Is viol playing a Winter pastime?
Other items include a reference to the VdGS website where you can find tips for Sibelius users. Also the usual CD reviews, music reviews and young players pages.
Just to make us all really jealous there are two pages no less listing concerts and courses.
The 20011 conclave will be held at St Xavier University in Chicago from July 24 – 31. After some news from 'Here and There', there is an article By Folop (of Werner Icking fame) outlining his life complete with photograph. Dominik Zuchowicz (1949 - 2011)was a well known and much liked viol maker in the USA who died in February. It is said he made instruments for 'musicians around the world' but I do not know of any in Australia or New Zealand. He lived in Ottawa and trained as a violin repairer. Another maker Jess Wells (1953 – 2010) also passed away fairly recently and there is an obituary to him by Bob Loy. He made a limited number of viols following a course at Portland and most of his viols are to be found in the Seattle area. Since 1998 he worked for an organ builder and so di not make any more viols. He was by the reports 'a great guy and loved by those who new him.'
“Ask your viol teacher” is always interesting to read and this issue's was also unusual in that the editor Liam Byrne was unable to contact his normal contributors owing (I gather) to a computer malfunction. However he addresses to question of “Why should we play from original notation?” He points out the many differences:
- music as parts not in score
- no bar lines as he says 'This type of notation interferes with the reader's ability to process the extended linear motion that is such an important feature of early polyphony'.
- the accidentals may be missing (musica ficta) so you have to listen to the others in order to determine if you should be playing a flat (sharp) or not, or you should just enjoy the clash.
- the notation is 'prescriptive'. Thus it tells the player how the music should 'go' and therefore closes the ear to other possibilities.
- the music may be in 'funny' clefs. As he says the purpose of the clef is to show us where C F or G is and so the trick is to use this as a starting point and read the music by intervals. Thus 'liberating us from note names'!
He suggests starting with something relatively simple and known with standard clefs such as Susato (Alamire) or Gibbons madrigals and motets published by Performers Facsimiles).
There is a useful piece from Al Folop (of the Werner Icking Music Archives viol library fame) about the music notation software calles 'Personal Composer'. This is a sophisticated program which is quite expensive (ca $100 depending on the version) but a fully functional demo can be downloaded for free from:
The web page says: 'The Personal Composer demo has the same features and capabilities as the top-level program, PC-Pro, but you cannot save music that you create in it. However, you can print your music. Text added to identify the print as a PC Demo print is small, and placed in the corner of the page.
This version of the demo is provided also as a substitute for PCViewer for displaying, playing, and printing .PC files. The demo does those things and much more. Just don’t forget that you can’t save any new music or changes to existing files.'
On the Werner Icking web page the Personal Composer files are listed and end with .pc. These can be downloaded into Personal Composer and then you can play it back at any tempo etc and with one part missing etc.
As always there are interesting reviews of new music and CDs. For example Margaret Little's solo CD 'Senza Continuo' is given a glowing review by Lucy Robinson “ I greatly enjoyed her individual voice, her ecellent musicianship, her strond character and wonderful sensitivity to colour.” The music is a varied collection by Bassano, Virgilliano, Hume, Ste Colombe, and some music from Marais's first book which was originally published without the continuo part.
New Music Publications
(http://www.guentersberg.de/index-en.htm)- The first edition of the Sonata in E major by Johann Christian Credius for flute, viol and continuo. G203.
- Telemann, Trio in G major for viol, harpsichord and continuo G200.
- Albertini / Finger. Sonata in D minor for viol and continuo G204.
- There is a collection of six sonatas for 2 celli or 2 viols by Benedetto Marcello. We have now published an Urtext version for viols: G201. A corresponding edition for celli is coming soon.
Werner Icking Music Archive
J.S.Bach - 3-part Inventions arr. for viols, BWV 793, BWV 795 and
- Set a 6 in F major for Tr Tr T T B B
- Set a 5 in G minor for Tr Tr T T B
Tomkins - Verse Anthem 'Sing unto God' for vocalists SATTB, Viols and Organ
Wed 22nd June 6pm - La Compañia at the Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre
“Civilization – The Duchy of Burgundy” Danny Lucin – director, Siobhan Stagg – soprano; Danny Lucin – cornetto; Mitchell Cross – shawm; Julian Bain – sackbut; Victoria Watts – gamba; Rosemary Hodgson – gittern & harp; Christine Baker – percussion & portative organ.
Under the rule of Philip the Good, the Burgundian court became the centre of late mediaeval civilization, with their stylistic musical innovations influencing much of the Western world. From this court, La Compañia presents a program of rondeaux, ballades and virelais, with music by Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois and Antoine Busnois.
Tickets $35, $25. www.lacompania.com.au
Sun 3rd July 2.15 pm - “Suite Français” at St Cuthbert’s Presbyterian Church 10 Wilson St., Brighton
All the variety, grace and wit that enhanced music at the court of Louis XIV will be displayed in this program by Miriam Morris (Gamba), Ruth Wilkinson (Recorder and Gamba) and Anne Gardiner (Harpsichord). Preludes, dances and character pieces by Marin Marais and the Couperins (Francois and Louis) will be highlights of a brilliant presentation.
Enq booking Early Arts Guild of Victoria 96998417. Admission $5.
Sat July 23rd 6.30 pm and Sun 24th July 12 noon
Latitude 37 “Baroque à la Carte” at The Vines of Red Hill Restaurant & Vineyard, 150 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill
Latitude 37 continues its ongoing partnership with Chef James Redfern in a unique culinary and musical experience. Indulge in a four-course gourmet meal but keep an eye on the musical menu; Latitude 37 does away with the traditional set-course musical program, and instead presents a selection of instrumental sides and it is at the diners’ discretion to decide what they will hear! Places are limited so book now to avoid missing out on this unusual sensory wonder.
Vines of Red Hill, on the Mornington Peninsula, becomes a banquet hall for this winter feast.
Fri 15, Sat 16 and Sun 17 July 10:00am – 6:00pm Fri & Sat 10:00am – 8:30pm Sunday (inc evening concert)
Early music winter school – La Seconda Prattica with Latitude 37
Following on from the success of last year’s workshop on French Baroque Music, the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, in association with Latitude 37, is excited to present a 3-day winter school focussing on the performance practices of early-17th Century Italy - the turning point that created the baroque period.
Over three days participants will closely examine the repertoire, treatises and documentation of early-17th Century Italian music performance. Special attention in masterclasses and lectures will be given to the practice of improvising and interpretation of the score, focussing on the the implementation of various techniques which are lacking on the printed score but can be recovered from the many extant sources of the period.
The members of Latitude 37 will be joined by two guest artists; bassoonist Simon Rickard, who will return to discuss the diverse and exotic wealth of instruments in use in the early 17th Century, and Melbourne Conservatorium Convenor of Voice, Stephen Grant, as vocal coach.
Full program details and enrolment forms: http://www.conservatorium.unimelb.edu.au/programs/short/earlymusic.
Saturday 25 June St Luke’s Church Heydon St, Mosman, 7.30pm “Night’s Black Bird” Josie and The Emeralds
Jose Ryan soprano “dramatic...glorious” (Jennifer Gall, Canberra Times, 18/4/11)
The Emerald City Viols: an exciting new viola da gamba consort of leading early music specialists Brooke Green, Fiona Ziegler, Catherine Upex and Anthea Cottee.
Night’s Black Bird takes the portent of doom in Flow my tears to explore themes of melancholy, joy and virtuosity in sixteenth-century Europe. Sparkly favourites are juxtaposed with rare gems by Dowland, Tallis, Gibbons, Morley, Jenkins, Cabeçon, Vasquez, Ortiz, Dalla Casa, Bassano and Rore.
Tickets at the door $20 and $10 (concessions). Schoolchildren admitted free if accompanied by an adult.
Plus a repeat performance at St James Church King St, Sydney, Wednesday 29 June 1.15pm Suggested donation $5
Sunday 14th August. Recital Hall East, Sydney Conservatorium Macquarie St, Sydney., 3.00pm Marasi Project Concert 2 – “Viol Song”
The viol family has inspired song composers for hundreds of years. The premiere of settings of Les Murray poems by Dan Walker, commissioned with assistance from Ars Musica Australis, continues this tradition. Also featured is Rosalind Page’s lyrical reflection on the River Seine, “Aquarelle” composed for us in 2009. The vocal theme continues with Marais’ famous “Les voix humaines” (human voices).
Andrei Laptev – Tenor , Alice Evans – violin, Jennifer Eriksson & Catherine Tabrett – viola da gamba , Tommie Andersson –theorbo
TICKETS: $30/20 at door; family ticket $80 (2 adults + 2 children)
New Melos Baroque Rosin
In the last newsletter I mentioned these new rosins and I have now been advised that they are available in Australia.
Melos Rosin -who initially started producing rosin in Greece for cello only, before expanding into premium Violin, Viola and Bass rosin, are now proud to announcea new range dedicated to Baroque:
NEW Melos Baroque Violin/treble viol Rosin –RRP$26.50 51654
NEW Melos Baroque Viola/tenor viol Rosin –RRP$26.50 51659
NEW Melos Baroque Cello/bass viol Rosin –RRP$26.50 84850
Imported by F. PAYTON & SON | Musical InstrumentImporters | PO Box 135 Artarmon SYDNEY NSW 2064
WhitehorseMusic, (03) 9890 1049, 927Whitehorse Road, BoxHill, VIC3128
BowsFor Strings (03) 8802 7905 7Glenwood Avenue, GlenWaverley VIC3150
AR Irwin Violins (02) 9363 0203, 208aNew South Head Road, Edgecliff, NSW2027
SimplyFor Strings (07) 3368 3666, 78Enoggera Terrace, Red Hill, QLD4059