- Easter Viol School and AGM 2008
- Report on Armidale School
- Technical tip - buying a bow
- Viols on the web
- Obituary - Harold Love
- CD Reviews
- New Publications
- Voices and viols in Sydney
- News from the Viola da Gamba Society of Great Britain
- For Sale - Pardessus
Easter Viol School and Annual General Meeting
The 29 th Annual Easter Viol School will be held from Friday 21 March until Monday 24 March 2008, at the MLC School, Corner Grantham and Rowley Streets, Burwood, Sydney, New South Wales. The brochure for the 2008 is now out and has been posted off to members of the Australian Viola da Gamba Society. Friday 22 February is the deadline for enrolments and there will be a late fee for those paying after that date. An eminent visitor from Canada is Louis Begin who will be a tutor and also bring some of his fine bows for trial and sale. This will be a rare opportunity for many of us as we will be able to test and compare a number of bows on our own instrument prior to a potential purchase. The tutors concert (free entry to workshop participants) also promises to be a very special event as it will feature a new work commissioned by the Society from the young Sydney composer Chris Berensen, and also the exciting voice of a upcoming countertenor, Timothy Chung. As usual the 'main fare' will be the viol consort repertoire in tutored, one to a part, consorts. Lunches will not be provided, rather we will make use of the local cafes. I hope this experiment proves successful and popular.
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Viola da Gamba Society Inc will be held during the school at MLC Burwood on Friday 21 March at 4.30 pm. A proxy form is provided at the end of this Newsletter. Reports will be given by the President and the Treasurer and all positions on the committee will be open for nomination at the meeting. A motion will be presented proposing the following additional clauses to our Rules of Association which are required by the Register of Cultural Organisations:
"Proposed Additions to the Rules of Association
Part 6 AVDGS Development Fund
40. Establishment of Fund
The Society has established a Development fund which is recognised by the Register of Cultural Activities as a tax deductable charitable public fund.
Donations made into this fund will be kept separate from other funds of the Society and will only be used to further the principal purpose of the Australian Viola da Gamba Society Inc. Investment of monies in this fund will be made in accordance with guidelines for public funds as specified by the Australian Taxation Office.
The fund will be adminstered by a management committee, the majority of whom, because of their tenure of some public office or their professional standing, have an underlying community responsibility, as distinct from obligations solely in regard to the cultural objectives of the Society.
43. Distribution of Monies
No monies/assets in this fund will be distributed to members or office bearers of the Society, except as reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses incurred on behalf of the fund or proper remuneration for administrative services.
44. Amendments or alterations
The Department responsible for the administration of the Register of Cultural Organisations will be notified of any proposed amendments or alterations to the provisions for the public fund, to assess the effect of any amendments on the Public Fund's continuing Deductible Gift Recipient status.
Receipts for gifts to the public fund must state:
the name of the public fund;
the Australian Business Number of the Society
the fact that the receipt is for a gift to a public fund;
any other matter required to be included on the receipt pursuant to the requirements of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.
If upon the winding-up or dissolution of the public fund listed on the Register of Cultural Organisations, there remains after satisfaction of all its debts and liabilities, any property or funds, th property or funds shall not be paid to or distributed among its members, but shall be given or transferred to some other fund, authority or institution having objectives similar to the objects of this public fund, and whose rules shall prohibit the distribution of its or their income among its or their members. Such a fund, authority or institution must be eligible for tax deductibility of donations under Subdivision 30-B, section 30-100, of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 and listed on the register of Cultural Organisations maintained under the Act."
CARL FREDRICH ABEL: "Mr ABEL'S FINE AIRS"
Music for Solo Viola da Gamba - Susanne Heinrich, viola da gamba - Hyperion CDA67628, 77:48
Available from: Hyperion Records
Having read Robert Oliver's glowing account of Susanne Heinrich's latest CD, 'Mr Abel's Fine Airs' in The King's Music Newsletter, I was well disposed to the idea of enjoying what promised to be a first-rate product. The liner notes by Peter Holman are highly informative and give an excellent account of Abel and his history. No less Susanne's brief biography detailing her lineage and present occupations, notably as an editor of viol music. I for one will certainly be on the look out for Charivari Agrèable's upcoming publications.
Susanne is a consummate artist possessing a most beautiful tonal range and an unerringly accurate and flexible left hand technique. Both bowing and left hand technique are so much more than adequate to the demands of this music that I have very little to say about them other than to adjure readers of this review to listen and learn by them.
I am most curious to know more of the background to Ms Heinrich's choice of Tiger line strings by Kürschner and how in fact these have helped the sound and articulation of the viol in this particular music. I presume that we are talking about the C4 but am not certain and would like more information on the subject.
I followed the majority of the recording with the facsimile and was very pleased to be enlightened by Susanne's interpretation of certain anomalies in the manuscript. Her ornamentation flows very naturally and the fact that every single repeat is honoured makes for structured performances throughout the disc. Also it was especially interesting to hear the G major sonata that I only possess in Natalie Dolmetsches' edition. This was the first piece of Abel that I played, also the first solo piece that I performed many years ago. This is an excellent teaching piece that falls nicely in standard between the Countess of Pembroke's collection and some of the more advanced pieces such as the D minor arpeggiated piece. One thing about hearing a CD or concert devoted to one composer, it is invariably rewarding because one gains greater insight and perspective the more one hears.
Congratulations to the recording engineer. The balance is first rate, being intimate and detailed without being g to obviously close miked. Every bowing articulation can be heard and it is good to report that there is a happy lack of percussive finger action and/or heavy breathing. If there are any edits within movements they are totally seamless.
My favourite track is the very first one and I return to it again and again with great pleasure. I thoroughly recommend this fine CD.
Viol Dreaming: Music for Viola da Gambas and Voice by Marais, Monteclair, Hunt and Perry.
The Marais Project, directed by Jennifer Eriksson
For tracklist and purchase see the Marais Project Website
It's a pleasure to be invited to review a new Australian CD of viol music, as there are so few of them. Jenny Eriksson's splendid Marais Project will be known to most readers. It's a fantastic initiative, namely to perform in varying contexts and groupings the 600+ viol works of Marin Marais. Although he often has a light and subtle touch, Marais is not a lightweight composer, and this long-term effort deserves to be recognized along with other major single-composer recording and performing projects. In these concerts Jenny has always provided some variety, an alternative for the faint-hearted to the Marais works which make up the core of the project. This new CD, the first for the project, represents a typical sample of the sort of fare which has been offered at the Marais Project concerts since their inception in 2000. As such, the very eclectic selection may be seen as a little old-fashioned; it's probably more usual now to find CDs which concentrate on one area of repertoire, and indeed there are many which offer only selections from the five books of Piéces de Viole by Marais. This one is perhaps more like somebody's iPod playlist; it is presented in the liner notes and the general presentation as a very personal document from Jenny. The title of the CD and the attractive main artwork theme, which looks vaguely earthy and turns out to be close-up shots of ceramic art by a good friend, support this impression.
The core of the disc remains Marais: a selection of five movements from each of two suites. For the G major suite for three viols from the fourth book, Danny Yeadon plays the top part, whereas in the suite for viol and basso continuo in the same key from the fifth book, Jenny takes that role. Both suites are very well played, and the support from the ubiquitous theorbist Tommy Andersson and violist Catherine Tabrett is very secure and well-coordinated. I particularly enjoyed Cathy's rich sound on Marais' gorgeous bass lines. The sound quality on the upper solo parts of both suites left to my mind perhaps a little to be desired. In the liner notes, Jenny refers to a "unique shine" to Danny's gamba sound, but I found it as presented on this recording to be a little edgy. Jenny's sound in the other suite is warmer, but it can be low in the tessitura, and to my mind the mixing sometimes allows it to be lost in the accompaniment. Jenny is listed as the producer, so I am guessing that this mix might reflect her taste and perhaps an understanding of the Piéces de Viole as a sort of duet, given that Marais' bass lines are indeed so powerful and beautiful. However, one could also see them as an instrumental embodiment of the solos in French opera, imbued as they are not only with the dance but also with glorious melody. Another small problem with these performances is that many of the ornaments which are so important in the rich texture of French music are either not played or executed so swiftly as to be almost imperceptible, in particular some of the tremblements and batements.
This brings me to the work of another important contributor to the disc, soprano Belinda Montgomery. She is represented chiefly by an interesting and successful new arrangement of Monteclair's cantata Le Retour de la Paix, in which the two violin parts are replaced by viols. This sort of rearranging was very common in the Baroque, and in fact the Berlin library holds variants of over 70 French operas, cantatas and motets arranged for voice and one or two viols. As its title implies, this beautiful work takes us through a range of emotions, from its warlike opening recitative to its joyous finale. Belinda presents a fine performance: her voice is clear, her articulation good, her intonation is very pure, and she has a good feeling for the French style in the all-important recitatives and elsewhere. The viols play up a storm, displaying the violinistic (that's a compliment) vigour and aggression demanded by the more warlike sections, without ever overplaying. The disc opens with two late Renaissance chansons, the first with viols, the second accompanied expertly by Tommy on the theorbo. Belinda also performs with the ensemble songs by two Sydney composers, both to poems by James McCauley. Both works are well-written in a non-confronting style for voice, viols and theorbo, and here also the singer is quite superb. Kevin Hunt's To the Holy Spirit contrasts chordal and melodic lines in the viols with an effective and highly figured theorbo part. It's a well-structured work of some subtlety. Matthew Perry's Nocturnal is pleasant enough, but to my mind fairly repetitive.
A lot of thought and good design work has gone into the CD booklet. It's an attractive 16-page production, with the song texts and all the usual information about the performers and their instruments. It's not the musicological tour de force that one sometimes finds; it's more a personal document from Jenny, but presented in a modest way. The only problem is that the printed text of Kevin Hunt's song does not appear to be that which is sung.
In general, this disc is an interesting and well-produced offering of some excellent music performed by some of Australia's best musicians, and any criticisms I may have of it should be seen as minor in this context. It should find a place on any gamba player's shelf, and hopefully others will also buy it and be introduced to the charms of our instrument!