- Annual General Meeting
- Membership renewals
- Sydney Consort Day
- Consortium 2003
- CD Review: ¡Ay que sí!
- State Reports
- The Score
- 10 Commandments on the Etiquette of Tuning
- Forthcoming concerts
- For Sale
- AVdGS Members' Shop
Consortium 2003, 12-14 September
A brochure for this workshop is enclosed with this newsletter, so remarks here will be brief. We begin by meeting on the evening of Friday 12th from 4pm onwards at the Milner's place, and dinner will be included. This promises to be an exciting workshop, but numbers are strictly limited to 16 players. A waitlist of up to 5 will be kept in the event of people dropping out, and if you do have to cancel, please advise Patrice as soon as possible. There may be a few observers (potential beginners) coming too.
If you are driving from Sydney, could you please let Patrice know, as we need to take down music and some instruments. If you are flying in, it may be possible to arrange an airport pickup.
While we may be able to find a few billets for people, there is a wide range of accommodation available. In Bungendore village, there is The Carrington (02 6238 1044) "famous for its atmosphere, service and beautiful surroundings" for about $165 a double B and B while the basic Motel Bungendore (02 6238 1037) has rooms from about $50.00. B and B places include the "Old Stone House" (6238 1888) and "Elmslea Homestead" (6238 1651). On the Federal Highway, at the northern edge of Canberra, are the Rydges Eaglehawk Resort (6241 6033) with rooms at $130 and the Formule 1 (5253 9020) with rooms at $54. All these places are about 10 minutes drive from Birriwa Road.
Richard and Joan recently aquired a single stop chamber pipe organ transposable from A440 to A415 which is an ideal continuo instrument for viol consorts. This will give the players a rare opportunity to play consort music with organ support - which was very common in the 17th century.
Fay D'Elmaine has proposed a Saturday night banquet at her house (near the Milners' place), and Bob Meadows will also be giving a talk that night. Bob was trained in lute and viol making at the London School of Musical Instrument Making and has extensive experience making hurdy gurdies, mandolins, mandoras, lutes etc. He will bring along some historic tools to talk about and will also offer quick fixes for any minor problems players are having with their instruments.
As this workshop is fairly informal, many of the final arrangements will be made during the workshop. Our usual gourmet standard for meals will be followed, and after enrolling, participants are asked to call the Milners who will co-ordinate what people bring so that we don't end up with 5,000 sausage rolls only (or similar).
Standards catered for will be lower intermediate to advanced. There will be three groups at any one time, two with tutors. Diverse repertoire can be brought to the workshop, and suggestions will be welcome. We may also have an informal concert and/or big group session to end with on the Sunday.
¡Ay que sí!
Suzie LeBlanc with Les Voix Humaines. ATMA CD ACD2 2244. Recorded 2001
Right from the first note of this CD, you could smell the garlic and olives. If you loved The Harp Consort's Luz y norte, then you'll likely go for this one too, though it is quite different. A CD of Spanish music, incomparably performed by world-famous soprano Suzie LeBlanc, the bass viol duo Les Voix Humaines, with friends Maxine Eilander on Spanish harp, Stephen Stubbs on Baroque Guitar, and Rafik Samman contributing percussion to various tracks.
There are 18 tracks, 11 of them vocal, the rest instrumental, and the CD totals 65 minutes. Most of the composers are familiar to those with a passing familiarity with early Spanish music - José Marin, Juan Hidalgo, Gaspar Sanz and Diego Ortiz - but there are some that were new to me, such as Manuel Machado, Francisco Repilado, Diego Fernandez de Huete and Francisco Guerau.
The title of the CD is taken from Track 9: Ay que sí, ay que no: Oh Yes! Oh No! This is a lively piece by Hidalgo (collaborator with Caldéron on the very first Spanish opera), a tale of the passion of sorrow and love. The song is one of many examples on this CD of the tonos humanos, a secular genre which combines elements of theatre and court chamber music. In the words of Jacques-André Houle who wrote the sleevenotes, the song comes "from the zarzuela El templo de Palas written by Francisco de Avellaneda and first staged in 1675".
The opening track particularly appealed to me. It is a very short song by Manuel Machado called Dos estrellas le siguen, but the performers have padded it out beautifully to 4:35 by surrounding it with Folia variations, and Suzie LeBlanc's voice drops into this texture like a jewel. Two songs by Marin follow, the first with all of the instrumentalists including castanets, the second just with baroque guitar. Track 4 is a most attractive instrumental arrangement by Susie Napper of Buena vista by Repilado. Track 6 shows off the plucked instruments, with de Huete's beautiful Españoleta. The following track features another Marin song (Marin has the lion's share of the CD with 6 tracks), another song of passion and turmoil. The notes tell of the turmoil in Marin's life: he was ordained in Rome, but having in 1644 entered the Encarnacion Monastery in Madrid, he was arrested, imprisoned, tortured and whipped for murder and robbery and following an attempted escape he was defrocked and banished from Madrid for 10 years. Yet he was highly regarded as a singer (tenor) and composer in his time, and he left more tonos humanos than his contemporaries.
Diego Ortiz's famous piece Recercada Segunda makes an appearance next, arranged for two bass viols and accompanied by the guitar and harp. It is taken at a cracking pace that works perfectly. Another track for harp and guitar features Guadame las vacas (track 10) and it is followed by another of Marin's finest songs Aquella sierra nevada, accompanied by bass viols and harp, again arranged by Ms Napper. A better known Marin song follows: No piense Menguilla ya, with the full band accompanying.
The baroque guitar gets its solo piece on Track 15, with a Pavana by Sanz, sensitively performed by Stephen Stubbs. After another Marin song, another Españoleta follows for harp and guitar, before the finale, which is is an anonymous vocal chaconne.
Suzie LeBlanc has one of those perfect early music voices, and with just enough darkness to perform Spanish music. On this CD she does not compete with some of the more histrionic moments of Monteserrat Figueras, or some of the more extravangant Spanish performers; instead we have the exquisite and sensitive renditions of the songs, with creative and lively accompaniments and instrumental pieces rendered by performers of real stature. Stephen Stubbs and Rafik Samman are regulars with Les Voix Humaines, but the addition of Maxine Eilander (a young performer who studied with Andrew Lawrence-King, graduated in Bremen in 1997 and is now gracing some of the worlds top early music groups) is most welcome.
The booklet is excellent. In French and English, it contains the song texts in 3 languages, photos and bios of the performers and an essay on the music by the aforementioned J-A. Houle. Ms LeBlanc graces the cover, looking far too fair to be Spanish, but with an attractive attempt in that direction. It is a most welcome addition to the collection, and a recommended purchase.