|Newsletter Issue 45 - Winter 2011|
|Written by Richard J Milner|
|Monday, 23 April 2012 23:15|
The first item in our newsletter is and exciting update on the next Easter Viol Workshop to be held over Easter 2012 in Melbourne. Also there are two reports from our well travelled members who attended viol workshops in Europe, the UK and the USA. A major new recording of the Byrd consort music by Phantasm is reviewed by Laura Vaughan. Professional viol consorts seem to be a growth industry in Sydney with Jenny Eriksson forming "Severn Teares" and Brooke Green "The Emeralds". Pictures and information provided here. Finally we have a short article by a talented young composer, Alice Chance, who has composed an innovative piece for the Marais Project to be performed at the October concert.
Easter Viol Workshop 2012
Planning for the 2012 viola da gamba workshop is well underway. Our theme next year be 'Old and New', the dates will be April 6-9 2012 and the place to be will be Melbourne!
And we will be posting some music on the web for those who want to prepare in advance! So dust off your viol and rosin up your bow because it will be Easter in no time! Brochure and enrolment forms will be available early in the new year.
Reports from Members Abroad
Peter Hawkins - A Tale of Two Viol Summer Courses - Labro, Italy and Benslow, England July 2011
For the second year in succession Lyn and I managed to avoid the worst of Melbourne winter by playing viols at interesting locations in the northern summer. This July we ventured via a short acclimatising stay in Rome in a tiny apartment near the Chiesa Nuova to a small but spectacularly picturesque hilltop village about an hour south of Assisi. Here we enjoyed 10 days of glorious sunshine and the experience of playing viol consorts in a magic location of a nearby 14th century church attached to a former monastery.
This was, we understand, the first Labro music festival that featured a viol consort workshop stream. The focus was on the English consort repertoire. The tutor for the workshop was José Vázquez, Professor of Viol from Vienna and founder of the Orpheus Collection of about 60 historic viols, the only collection being played regularly rather than being stuck behind glass museum cages. In certain schools that José runs in Europe, he brings this collection for the participants to play. Unfortunately the Labro school wasn't one of these, however he did bring a wonderful 1671 Jacob Steiner bass viol which I was fortunate to be able to play frequently.
We were surprised to find that for the first 3 days Lyn and I were the only viol students, and as such had José's undivided attention. José let us know in no uncertain fashion that we were expected to play precisely his way. So we played 3 part Locke, Lupo and Lawes but definitely not Jenkins whom José considered to be an inferior composer! Although pretty full-on it was very good to have such a knowledgeable expert so readily imparting his knowledge – we could feel the daily
progress in our playing!
After 3 days we were joined by a violone player from Japan via Basle and were recorded accompanying the monastery commune with the resident dancers. Later we were joined by another violone player from Italy, so we were finally able to tackle 5 part repertoire and gave a couple of concerts to the town residents and other music students in Labro. The usual daily routine started with morning coffee at the respectable hour of 10am in lovely warm sunshine at the Labro town bar, followed by intensive technique and consort study through until around 2pm when we headed off for lunch. This usually consisted of us all squeezing into our small rented Fiat to drive to nearby towns to sightsee and eat lunch – a process that lasted between 2 and 3 hours! Then back for more playing through until about 9pm, after which we would all sit down outside at the tiny Labro pizzeria to consume ample wine and simple Italian food – a great way to spend 10 days.
José Vázquez, some may remember, came to Melbourne a couple of times in the late 1970's together with his teacher at the Basle conservatorium, Hannelore Müller, where among other musical activities they put on Monteverdi's Orfeo. José's passion though has been for early Spanish music. When in our 5-part mode we worked through some wonderful motets by Vittoria and especially Cristóbal de Morales. José has over the years developed a large number of ideas on viol playing (José's Rules!) – one that springs to mind is his call to tenor players, who he said should have as a prime task to drown out the treble players!
We came away after this week and a half with an EasyJet flight from Rome to London with heads full of ideas stimulated by José and his unique and exciting style of tuition.
On landing in a cold wet Gatwick airport we had to immediately rush to our second school, this one being with Alison Crum and the Rose Consort, held in the marvellous Benslow Music Trust location at Hitchin. This workshop is held each year for experienced viol consort players, and is residential with full board including meals supplied. It featured a program similar to our Easter viol schools and this year had 32 full and part time participants, including familiar faces of Andrew Parkin and Ann Kanaan from Sydney. Andrew and Ann are fortunate to be able to divide their year between Sydney and England.
The Benslow tutors as well as Alison and Roy Marks were Peter Wenland and Ibi Aziz, and the playing groups were mixed each half day so that we all ended up playing at least at some stage with all other participants. I must say that hot on the heals of the Labro school, the Benslow workshop, whilst enjoyable, was a little on the subdued side. This was possibly also the case for the concert given by the Rose Consort as part of the school – "Ye Sacred Muses" – which included Timothy Travers-Brown, countertenor, in a program featuring music for viols and voice by composers including Tallis, Byrd, Gibbons and Dowland.
After six enjoyable days we headed off for a journey through south west England and then Wales, photographing ruined castles which were there in abundance. We ended up in Manchester, leaving on the day the riots broke out up there!
Next winter, maybe the 50th VDGS of America conclave will give us an excuse to avoid the depth of the Melbourne winter.
Rosaleen Love - Conclave and Amherst
In July this year I attended two summer music schools in the USA, the Amherst Early Music Festival in New London, Connecticut, and the 49th conclave of the Viola da Gamba Society of America, in Chicago. Both workshops are legendary. With these summer schools I find there is always something special. At Conclave, it was a class offered by Catherina Meints for pardessus and treble players. I knew this would be excellent, as I was aware of Meints' reputation as a formidable player and teacher. I was not prepared for the totality of the experience, which in retrospect was rather like holding court for the Queen, perhaps a pardessus-playing Queen of France. Cathy Meints is held in enormous reverence and affection by all the students she has taught, many of whom were teaching and playing at Conclave. We learned so much from her about the special techniques of the pardessus (and treble). All I now need to do is put her precepts into practice.
At Amherst, the Aha! factor came with the staging of a baroque opera by advanced students of the Baroque Academy, Allessandro Scarlatti's La Principessa Fedele. Drew Minter was the stage director. What struck me about his production was the fluidity and grace of the baroque gesture. Often gesture is interpreted as a series of poses; in this production, gesture was more a continuous movement, as in ballet. This student production was put together in just one week. It was superb. It was also a comedy, which I find helps, in baroque opera.
I wouldn't go to Amherst just for viol consorts. Conclave is uniquely specialized for that purpose. Amherst is more for total immersion in all aspects of early music. This year, the focus was on the music of Italy and Spain. I took classes that I'd be unlikely to get a chance to do at home, e.g. a class on traditional Armenian music with Nina Stern (recorder) and Glen Veliz (drum). The viol got to play the drone while wild Armenian melodies flowed around. Stern and Veliz gave a stunning evening concert where the magical combination of recorder, drum and oud took the audience to some other place entirely. For a trio sonata class, I was able to borrow a bass viol to play continuo with two flautists and the harpsichord, something I'd not have much chance to do back here. I also took a fascinating class with Mary Springfels, who researched various choral settings of Infelix ego, a poem written by Girolamo Savonarola three days before his execution. We played versions by Lassus, Willaert and Byrd, and took a brief tour of music (and Italian) history with it. The poem "Infelix ego" is not a bundle of laughs.
Music by Handel, Albertini/Finger and Telemann. Edition Guentersberg, Heidelberg 2010
1. Concerto a Cembalo Solo con Viola di Gambe (sic) o Braccio by Georg Friedrich Haendel, Edition Guentersberg, G189, Heidelberg 2010
In 2009, the innovative Guentersberg publishing house brought out their edition of HWV364b in G minor, the only Viola da Gamba sonata generally accepted as by Handel. Recently they published a work in C major, extant in eleven manuscript copies, ten of which name Handel as the composer and one, the obscure Johann Matthias Leffloth. If this Concerto is indeed by Handel, then, as is suggested in the Preface, it must be an early work, probably written in Venice 1706-7.
Setting aside issues of authenticity, the title Concerto means simply, 'music played together'. It is a sonata in four movements, slow-fast-slow-fast, with a written out harpsichord part in all movements with figuring under the bassline in the second movement only. In recognition of the title's alternative instrumentation for Viola da Braccio (ie, modern viola of the violin family), the publishers have included parts for both Viola da Gamba and Viola, the major differences being octave transpositions in the Viola part to avoid going below the instrument's range. From a Gamba point of view, the work is less rewarding than the better-known G minor Sonata and less interesting as a composition. Perhaps a little easier to play than the G minor sonata, both show the Italianate influence of the violin and are not idiomatically conceived for the Viol, despite being readily playable. An interesting addition to the repertoire, this work does bear the stamp of the undeveloped composer; if making a choice, I would buy the G minor Sonata.
2. Essercizii Musici: Trio 2do fuer Viola da Gamba, Cembalo und Basso Continuo by Georg Philipp Telemann. TWV 42:G6, Edition Guentersberg, G200, Heidelberg, 2011.
This trio, in the standard four-movement, slow-fast-slow-fast format, was originally published in 1739 as the second of a set of ten chamber works, four of which explore the obligato harpsichord in a chamber music role; it is unusual in having a solo viol part with both a written out obligato harpsichord part and a separate figured bass. Ideally, it requires a duo of viol and harpsichord, with a continuo of cello/viol and either a second harpsichord or another chord-playing instrument. In addition to the full score and separate parts for viol and basso continuo, the editors have thoughtfully printed the solo harpsichord part with the figured bass on a separate stave below. With this format, the harpsichord can play both the solo part and the figured bass part when the solo drops out. Although practical, this destroys the very careful juxtaposition of instrumentation in the Largo third movement, where the solo harpsichord plays only in the first and last sections, (ABA form) leaving the central contrasting section for the solo viol and continuo group. To do the work justice, four players are required.
For the gamba player, this is a very worthwhile sonata; it displays the viol in its upper-middle and higher registers to advantage in a varied and beautifully written part. The level of difficulty is medium. Although the editors recommend a second viol for the continuo, I think a cello is more idiomatic, both because the part descends to C and because by 1739, the viol in Germany had lost its continuo role in favour of maintaining its solo one.
3. Sonata in D Moll fuer Viola da Gamba und Basso Continuo by Ignazio Albertini: arranged by Gottfried Finger (?), RI-147. Edition Guentersberg G204, Heidelberg, 2011.
This violin sonata, by Ignazio Albertini, was transcribed for viola da gamba by Gottfried Finger, some time in the late seventeenth century. In its Stylus Phantasticus qualities, it is similar (not as difficult though) to the anonymous Luebecker VioladaGamba Solo, also published by Guentersberg; both are taken from the same manuscript of works for violin and viol in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, Mus.Sch.D.249.
A collection of alternating fast and slow movements, the first and last sections offer opportunities for virtuosity in fast passagework. Finger edited out more than half of the opening Allegro, without any apparent damage to the busy flow of semiquavers. The middle movements are less improvisatory and more reminiscent of either dances or the Italian sonata allegro, with hints of Corelli.
This is a work for those confident in moving around the viol; its violin origins are clear from the busy passagework and yet it appears natural to the viol in transcription. It contains lovely lyrical lines as well as fast passages that leap about the instrument. This is a welcome 'new' work.
The Amherst Festival is both a summer school of workshops for students, and a festival with evening concerts given by professional musicians. I particularly enjoyed a concert based (very loosely) on the theme of Shakespeare's Dark Lady, given by the Flanders Recorder Quartet. Recorder groups seem to be more adventurous than viol groups in arranging repertoire to suit themselves. The concert concluded with an arrangement of Verdi's "Forever free" from La Traviata. Soprano Julianne Baird, more usually a specialist in early song, brought the house down as Violetta, with the orchestral accompaniment rendered by four recorders. I think this might have been one of those once in a lifetime experiences.
Conclave is more for straight consort playing, and I specially enjoyed Johanna Blendulf's class on the trios and quartets of John Hingeston. A class I didn't enrol in, but which was clearly fun as evidenced at the student concert, was one on Jenkin's fantasia suites with the organ. There is such variety of classes on offer, from which one must choose only three, that there's always the sense that there's so much more happening that being just one person isn't quite enough. In the faculty concert, it was as if the consorts were competing to see which could creep in most silently in the opening phrases, as they explored a fuller range of dynamics with the viol. I love hearing Johanna Blendulf play the treble viol. It is a full-on choirs of angels sound. Another highlight of the faculty concert was Gail Ann Schroeder and Elin Soderstrom playing Marais. In 2012 Conclave will celebrate its 50th annual meeting in Delaware, with plans to invite as guests anyone who has ever tutored for the workshops. It should be quite some celebration.
CD Review - William Byrd: Complete Consort Music CKD 372 (Linn Records)
William Byrd (c.1540 – 1623) was one of the greatest composers of Elizabethan England. A student of Thomas Tallis, Byrd's music encompasses many of the different musical forms of the period and demonstrates remarkable invention, beauty, subtlety and a formidable mastery of polyphony. Music for viol consort makes up a compact but significant part of Byrd's legacy and with this 80 minute disc, English viol consort Phantasm presents this oeuvre in its entirety, omitting only the spurious or inadequately reconstructed works such as the In Nomine a5 (I) and other incomplete hymn settings. This is, to my knowledge, only the second all-Byrd recording of consort music, the other being a CD released by Fretwork in 1994, a disc with four fewer works than that currently under review.
Consort music was a medium that gave Byrd considerable compositional freedom, as it was music largely composed 'for music's sake', without the constraint of text or liturgy. It is truly fascinating to hear the total extant consort music left to us by Byrd, composed across a span of some 40 years, on a single CD. In the interesting and scholarly liner notes, Phantasm's director Laurence Dreyfus proposes probable compositional dates for each piece; a constantly evolving style that never ceases in its experimentation is clearly evident. From the polyphonic enrichment of devotional hymns, beautiful, contemplative and spare in texture, through in nomines of heartbreaking transparency, an early and very dense 6-part fantasia, clever and inventive sets of variations on popular tunes such as Browning, forays into dances with dignified pavans and refined galliards and finally fantasias which are stunningly beautiful in their polyphonic complexity, astonishingly intricate with only three or four voices - music in the purest sense. Dreyfus quotes Morley in describing these late fantasias: "Here, following Thomas Morley (1597), 'more art may be shown than in any other music because the composer is tied to nothing, but may add, diminish, and alter at his pleasure'. In taking a succession of unmarked 'points', each laden with its own refined gradients of character, Byrd 'wrests and turns [the point] as he wishes', forming a kaleidoscope of intense yearning and delight."
Rather than arrange the music chronologically, Phantasm has chosen to order the works so that the different styles and characters are continuously juxtaposed, as are the number of parts and therefore textures. This is, for me, a very successful approach that generates a logical musical flow and maintains ones interest as a listener. Under the direction of Laurence Dreyfus from the treble viol, Phantasm performs these works with an admirable unity of purpose, the well-matched instruments creating a kaleidoscopic blend of sound that yet allows individual voices to emerge and be heard in turn. The ensemble is faultless, the tuning excellent (I would be curious to know which temperament they chose) and the playing executed with a pleasing variety of articulations. In particular, I enjoyed the sense of energy and lively forward motion brought to the more active passages, which were beautifully contrasted with the more static moments of contemplation. The recording quality is clean and clear, with the acoustic of the Merton College Chapel, Oxford, being very suitable for the recording of this repertoire. This CD is a fine achievement, the music so interesting that it bears many repeated hearings, and I recommend it highly to any listener with an interest in music for viol consort.
Technical Tip: Changing positions with the left hand.
(reproduced from the US Viola da Gamba Society News - Ask Your Viol Teacher - June 2000)
Question 1.- I'm confused about first position and half position. As a beginner, should I stick with one position for a while to avoid confusion? Those first finger extensions can be awkward, but shifting back and forth can be very confusing to the brain and fingers
Answers 1. I like to teach extensions as early as possible. On the bass and treble you need to extend if you have Fs and Bbs. A lot of people (especially older students) find the stretching difficult. However, if you approach it like doing callisthenics and your left-hand position is pronated, you ought to be able to do this easily after a whole day's exercise. Learning this maneuver is also useful as a prelude to learning crawl-shifting (where you walk around the fingerboard like a spider). I think extensions avoid confusion, as long as you remember that your upper three fingers and your thumb always move as a unit, while your first finger as the extender opens and closes the gap between it and the second finger.
-Mary Anne Ballard
Answer 2. It is very valuable to learn both first and half positions early in one's study to develop flexibility of brain and fingers! To think of a note as a particular fret rather than a particular finger is very important. It is also wonderful to be able to shift easily between half and first positions as note patterns present themselves. I recommend beginning in first position, and then, once basic reading and playing comfort has been developed, half position should be explored, first in scales in order to discover keys and patterns in which it is useful, and then reading music in half position to develop fluency.
Answer 3. I view both first finger extensions and shifting between first position and half position as basic skills to be mastered as soon as possible. Not to have both techniques available can be a significant musical handicap. However, you have to start somewhere, and you can't master everything at once. Just as you may do separate left hand (fingering) and right hand (bowing) exercises, you need to spend sufficient time practicing first position (without extensions) and half position separately to learn how to get your fingers correctly and consistently positioned relative to the frets and the fingerboard. Then you need to work separately on playing in first position with extensions and on shifting smoothly back and forth between first position and half position. The most common need is to shift between half position or first finger extension on one string
and first position without extension on an adjacent string. This needs to become fluent and automatic. In all cases, it is helpful to learn from the beginning to associate notes with fret positions
rather than particular fingers. While it is possible to devise exercises and even find music which can be played all in first position without extensions, you won't get very far before you find that
much if not most viol music uses that first fret frequently on at least one or two strings. You could decide to play everything in half position, but you will quickly discover that not being able to use the fifth fret is frequently awkward, too. In fact, most players find that most notes for the more common key signatures lie more comfortably under the hand in first position.
Question 2. I'm an intermediate student and have successfully learned both half position and first position, but I'm still confused! How should I choose between first finger extensions and shifts between half position and first position? Should I be using the positions equally or should I stay in half position only if I need a lot of first-fret notes (but then lose easy access to the fifth fret).
Answer1. I favor extensions in general because they give you access to more notes, and the possibility of smoother phrasing.
-Mary Anne Ballard,
Answer 2. Fingerings on the viola da gamba are much more complicated than on a four string instrument tuned in fifths. Therefore fingering rules or even guidelines are, in my opinion, nearly non-existent. Context means so much; whether one is playing consort music, continuo, l6th-, 17th- or 18th-century solo music from notes ~ tablature, etc. One of the best methods of self-teaching is to look at as much music as you can that has original fingerings (the French literature has the most). Once you start playing those "lute-style" compressed fingerings, you'll never go back! The main
rule is to know your geography-learn where all your notes are using any finger.
Answer 2. Intermediate players should be developing flexibility in extended position. Opening the hand often takes some time for bass players and it is wise to begin gradually so as to avoid injury. It is very important for a good "square" left hand position to be established before extending the first finger back on any size viol, both for ease and good technique. Generally, first position with extension is a good way to play passages requiring frequent playing on the fifth as well as the first fret or, in other words, passages spanning five frets. Half position is useful when the notes fall frequently on the first four frets when open strings will be used often rather than the fretted equivalent pitch, and when the passage uses a lot of first and second frets in succession. It is helpful to become familiar with intervals and patterns that fall within your hand span on the fingerboard and choose a position based on the patterns contained in the music you are to play. Your experience and technique will also be a determining factor. You may find, especially on the bass, that until your hand opens up to span the open or extended position comfortably, the use of half position is a valuable interim alternative. Extensions are also valuable in the upper fret positions in order to play a given set of notes or chords in one hand span. It is important to develop the concept that every hand placement on the frets has both an open (extended) and closed version. General criteria for making shifting decisions:
The style and period of the music being played determines phrasing decisions, the use of open strings vs. fretted notes, tone color desired, etc.
Play musically by avoiding breaking up a musical line with an awkward shift. It is important to remember that our technical decisions must always serve the music!
Choose positions which fit the range and configuration of the notes contained in a given passage.
If you cannot execute the most musically appropriate shift gracefully, keep working on it, but if push comes to shove in an ensemble situation or a performance, play the passage
the way you can do it best and go for the more ideal musical decision when your technique is further developed.
Answer 3. As your fingering skills develop, you should be less concerned with what "position" you are in (which mostly references your thumb position anyway) than with which finger/fret/string combination best suits the needs of the moment. If you're sight-reading, this requires planning ahead. Learn to read several notes ahead of what you're playing so that you can make decisions based on both where you've been and where you're headed. Personally, I find that, even though I have a large enough hand to make first finger extensions easy to execute, I use them relatively sparingly, opting instead to shift frequently. I tend to reserve extensions primarily for situations in which I need both the first and fifth frets (second and sixth, third and seventh, etc.) in close proximity. I find that I can position my fingers more accurately behind the frets (better into-
nation and tone) with less strain and more dexterity (speed) with my hand in closed position, so for me, frequent shifting and extensive use of half position produce better results than remaining
anchored in first position.
-David Dreyfuss, Boulder Creek CA
News from USA and UK.
The June newsletter included obituaries to another icon of the viol world – George Hunter. While the name may not be that familiar to many viol players in Australia and New Zealand, most of us have played from and admired his excellent editions of the core consort repertoire published through his company Northwood Music. The first tribute is by Peter Farrell, Professor Emeritus, University of California and he makes specific mention of his publications:
"To my mind these publications are ideal: they combine good taste in selection of material, careful scholarship and editing and are informed by someone who plays the music; the copy is legible and there are no page turns." George was Professor of harpsichord and performance practice at the University of Illinois for 33 years. Peter Farrell continues "I was astounded by his depth of knowledge of music literature and musical practices of former times... His recording of Machaut's Mass with the vocal collagium set a standard for understanding thei difficult and controversial work." His larger than life personality is a feature of all the tributes – again I quote Peter Farrell - "His was always delightful, slightly eccentric, humanly warm, thoughtful and helpful, with a wonderful sense of humour". His daughter, Rebecca, recalls growing up in a house full of music where her father could play any instrument! She goes on "But I think Georges's last and greatest musical love was for the viola da gamba. First he was a player, but then he applied his talents, scholarships and intuitions to producing new editions of major consort music." Incidentally he call his company Northwood Music after his favourite haunt – the woods of New Hampshire.
Jane Hershey reports on a wonderful weeks residency at Lexington Massachusetts, with Wieland Kuijken; "This past March, I had the privilege and pleasure of hosting a week-long Residency for viol players with the Belgian,Wieland Kuijken. When the week finally arrived, the culmination of months of detailed planning and collaboration, it had a profound dream-like quality for me. Charismatic and influential people in my past and present collided and interacted in an intense, exuberant atmosphere. The twelve students in the Residency, along with Wieland, Laura Jeppesen, and me, spent a week together, preparing ensemble music for the final concert. Wieland was tireless and unimaginably generous, especially in the daily masterclass. Personalities blossomed, music was understood in a new way, and there was a palpable sense of gratitude in the air for this chance to play viol music together, with inspired guidance and direction. The reverie was also evident among the older generation-Mary Springfels, Laura Jeppesen, Wendy Gillespie, Wieland, and me- enjoying memories of consorts played, lessons taken, concerts heard and performed, bottles of wine and meals consumed. Furthermore, for myself, I never expected to be able to rehear Wieland's words from when I was a student of his many years ago and to be surprised by his new ideas as well. The importance of resonance, ideas about rhythm, the logic of a phrase or clear meaning of a harmony, all which I learned from him, are now central to my understanding of music. During the Residency week, I could see that Wieland's plaving and teaching empowers and inspires players, and challenges them to really listen."
Several of the students also provided personal recollections of the week which indeed made it sound quite awesome!
'Ask your viol teachers' is again concerned with tuning. Are viols unusually difficult to tune? Brent Wissick " I think the beautiful timbre (frequency spectrum) makes it harder to tune from the outset than violins or cellos. They have a prominent fundamental sound and vivid tenth partial (two octaves plus a minor seventh above the main note). That is why they sound so loud and penetrtating sometimes. .. Viols too have a strong fundamental most of the time, but their other strong overtones tend to be around the fifth and sixth partials … What's a human ear (and brain) to do when listening to all this subliminal pitch information?"
Alison Crum says that gut strings are inherently more stable and suggests using all gut. Of course having pegs which work well are a key factor. Another factor is that of temperament but that is too big a topic for now! The article goes on to say that we should practice tuning. How many of us do that? So using a Korg with different temperaments "try tuning the open strings to different temperaments and see ho closely you can match the pitch. The try tuning to yourself without a box and use it to double check."
Finally and still on tuning Peter Payzant reviews the Cleartune Chromatic Tuner App for ipads and Android machines. For a start it is very cheap (about $A5) and he found it to be very accurate. You can get an external 'ThumbTack' microphone for $US 12.95 at Amazon. His major problem was keeping the ipad on the music stand!
News from the UK
Peter Holman's new book 'Life after Death' will be the subject of the next meeting to be held in London on 19 November. As well as Peter, there will be contributions by Mark Caudle, Susanne Heinrich,Ben Hebbert and Robert Rawson. Topics include Finger's gamba music, newly identified pieces composed by foreign composers around Handel in London, music of Abel, Lidel and others, and the survival and use of viols in the 18th and 19th century. The Summer Edition of "The Viol" contains tributes to George Hunter and Richard Campbell.
Music reviews include two new books (books 2 and 3) of 5 part consorts for 'relative beginners' edited by Jacqui Robertson Wade and published by Rondo. They both have interesting and unusual repertoire by Richaford, Haussmann, Holborne, Eccard, Byrd, Anon, Feffries etc. The books are given a warm welcome. Also reviewed is Edition Guntersberg's publication of 6 sonatas for 2 gambas and bc by Kuhnel. Ian Gammie reports "Altogether this is very charming music for bass viol players (the upper part of the Sonatinas can be played on a tenor viol). The first three sonatas where the two parts cross each other are overall more technically demanding than the next three Sonatinas where Viol 1 is always the top part. That said, the technical demands are not as heavy as in Kuhnel's solo works. The music is generally in a style comparable with Becker, Hacquart, Hoffler, Schenck and other contemporaries, being designed for burgerlich entertainment in a familiar 17th century musical idiom. The next three volumes in the series will supply all the music for solo viol. some playable unaccompanied but mostly with basso continua. The editors are to be congratulated on producing these two excellent editions. "
1. Werner Icking (http://icking-music-archive.org)
JS Bach - Prelude from English Suite No. 5 arr. for viols. BWV 810
JS Bach - Allemande from English Suite No. 1 arr. for viols. BWV 806.
JS Bach - Prelude from English Suite No. 1 arr. for viols. BWV 806
2. Saraband Editions (http://www.saraband.com.au/)
A new Saraband Edition (SM75) for viols is now available. David Vanderkooi's arrangement of the J.S. Bach Flute Partita BWV1013 has been transposed for treble, tenor or bass viol. The standard is difficult, but the rewards high. As many viol players do play more than one size of viol, the main edition contains all three parts. Separate single parts are available on request.
3. Edition Guntersburg (http://www.guentersberg.de/)
G199- The Quartet in G major by Abel for flute, violin, viol and continuo
G 203 - the first edition of the Sonata in E major by Johann Christian Credius for flute, viol and continuo.
G 200 - Telemann, Trio in G major for viol, harpsichord and continuo
G204 - Albertini / Finger. Sonata in D minor for viol and continuo
Josie and The Emeralds
"Josie and The Emeralds" is Josie Ryan and The Emerald City Viols, directed by Brooke Green. Brooke Green, treble viol; Fiona Ziegler, tenor viol; Catherine Upex and Elizabeth Rumsey, bass viols.
Their programme for the Glebe Music Festival is titled "I Call and Cry" and features sacred and secular love songs and consorts from the 16th century including William Byrd, John Dowland, Thomas Tallis, Jacques Arcadelt and Antonio de Cabeçon. There will also be an arrangement by Brooke Green of Andrea Pandolfo's Albanese depicting the plight of Albanian asylum seekers seeking refuge in Italy. Andrea Pandolfo has given permission for this arrangement to made, provided it is dedicated to boat people everywhere.
Saturday, 26 November, 3pm, St Scholastica's Chapel, Glebe.
Tickets $30 at the door or $20 concessions and early bird - for early bird phone 0422-334-054 or book up to and including 25th November. http://www.glebemusicfestival.com/2011_Concert_8.html
Josie Ryan is one of Australia's leading early music sopranos, having recently returned from many years performing with major early music ensembles in Europe.Josie and The Emeralds are delighted to be performing with Elizabeth Rumsey for this concert. Liz is visiting Sydney in November. For several years she has been based in Basel where in addition to working with her own viol consort, she plays regularly with small and large ensembles based in and around Switzerland: Chant 1450, Profeti della Quinta, The Earle his Viols, La Morra, Leones and Ensemble Daedalus among others. Josie and The Emeralds now has a myspace site where you can hear recordings from their concerts in June.
Young Australian composer writes for ancient instrument
Philip Podgson and Alice Chance
Event name: "The Ossenbrunner Twins"
When & where: 3.00pm Sunday October 24, 2011, Recital Hall East, Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Cost: $30/20 Family ticket $80 (2 adults + 2 children)
Tickets: Ph 9809 5185; at the door or on line purchase www.maraisproject.com.au
"The Ossenbrunner Twins" is a celebration of the fact that Australia is now home to two of the world's finest viola da gambas. The concert's title, "The Ossenbrunner Twins", pays homage to Reinhard Ossenbrunner, the leading German viola da gamba maker who lives and works in Cologne. The Ossenbrunner instruments in question are owned by Marais Project Director, Jennifer Eriksson, and highly regarded gambist and cellist, Daniel Yeadon who will feature on the day accompanied by lutenist, Tommie Andersson. As well an presenting some of the traditional repertoire for two viola da gambas on October 23, Eriksson and Yeadon will also premiere a new work for two viola da gambas by 2011 HSC composition student, Alice Chance. Alice attends MLC Burwood, Sydney. She studies composition at the School with Dr Paul Stanhope and viola da gamba privately with Jennifer Eriksson. In the short article below Alice describes the thinking behind her piece "O Pastor Animarum".
"When I came to write my new work for viola da gamba, "O Pastor Animarum", my goal was to compose a piece that was specifically designed for the Viola Da Gamba and its special characteristics.
If we think of the Gamba as having an important function to go to, (and let's face it, she is making a major career comeback at the moment) but her unique measurements prevent her from fitting into any of the stunning, "off the shelf" dresses in Myer or David Jones. Naturally, this can be very tough on a Gamba's self-esteem, especially when cellos and basses waltz out of Westfield with their fabulously fitted frocks! It seems the Gamba's uniqueness can only really shine in a tailor-made dress, so I took it upon myself to take her every 'measurement' and design something that would celebrate her uniqueness, and her history, in a most complimentary way!
On a more serious note, I was first inspired by a plainchant (O Pastor Animarum) by German nun, Hildegard Von Bingen, who lived in the 12th Century. The plainchant was composed so tenderly and with such passion that when I first heard it, I felt like Hildegard was sitting right next to me, singing it in my ear. Thus, my piece gained its initial working title: "The Hildegards are alive". Sadly, whilst this title got many laughs, I figured laughter was not the ideal audience reaction, so I changed to the original, more sacred and reflective title, which translates to, 'O Shepherd of Souls'.
There are a few qualities of the Gamba I have aimed to nurture in this piece. One of them is the fact that, in my view, it is an inherently modal instrument. I find that the instrument relaxes and sings when I improvise around the ancient church modes such as the Dorian (the white keys on the piano from D to D) and Mixolydian (the white keys on the piano from G to G). It is as if the viol feels comfortable and snug when wrapped in reminders of its ancient origins.
Another issue I wanted to address is the need for the Gamba to be supported or underpinned harmonically to make best use of its unique sound characteristics. The instrument has a wonderful resonance but modern audiences, brought up on the Bach solo cello suites, have little or no aural reference point for listening to the viol family. I believe the tone of the Gamba can only really sparkle when accompanied, as the sound can be quite fragile and dry when it is on stage alone. Thus, composing a duet seemed like the ideal way to give the melody, the instruments and the players, harmonic support in performance.
Finally, I would emphasise that although I have drawn upon a 12th century plainchant, O Pastor Animarum is a product of the 21st century, as I have aimed to create a fresh, contemporary piece which, of course, references the instrument's ancient lineage.
So now, when the Gamba attends her function, her dress will hopefully turn some heads. She deserves it."
"Severn Teares" performing in Moss Vale – Nicole Thomson, Cathy Upex, Shaun Ng, Jenny Eriksson, and Imogen Gunwal.
Chinese 7 string bass viol from Ian Watchorn
Very good quality for a Chinese instrument, with bridge and other improvements made by Ian. Comes with one of Ian's hard cases. $5750. All reasonable offers considered.
Ian Watchorn bass bow, 80g, superb quality. $1350
Doug Eaton bass bow, 70g, made from particularly beautiful snakewood. $650
7 string bass viol kit with carved figurehead imported from the Renaissance Music Company in the UK. Requires some expertise to build but the wood is exceptional; lovely figured maple back and Swiss Pine front. $1250
Ph 02 6236 3281 or 0431 473 612
Small bass viol made by Ian Watchorn
On the English pattern of Barak Norman ca 1700. Excellent condition with fibreglass case and new bow made by Louis Begin. Also some strings and books. Please phone Janette Woodbridge on 02 6760 3991.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2012 10:06|