music / “Christmas with Luminescence”, All Saints’ Anglican Church, December 15. Reviewed by CLINTON WHITE
The viola da gamba can easily fill a room with its resonant sound. In Arcangelo Corelli’s “Sonata Op.5, No 1 in D Major”, for violin and basso continuo, it did just that in this showy piece that opened the concert. Shaun Ng played the viola da gamba and the theorbo, along with Monika Kornel on harpsichord, Stan W. Kornel on baroque violin and viola d’amore, and Soprano Belinda Montgomery and countertenor/baritone David Greco.
Fresh from his performance in Handel’s Esther, Greco, along with Montgomery joined the other musicians for Monteverdi’s ”Pur ti Miro, Pur to godo”, from his Coronation of Poppea. Greco, in Countertenor range, at times matched the pitch of Montgomery, also in tone quality; it was a delicious pairing.
In Purcell’s “Lost is my quiet for ever”, from his collection of songs titled Orpheus Britannicus, Greco descended to his baritone range, where he excels. This performance had some penetrating moments, especially from Montgomery; her dynamic cut through.
The French composer Étienne Lemoyne’s “Sarabande”, for solo theorbo let me hear that refined sound of this instrument, which has many similarities to the voice of the lute. The contemplative nature of its sound lends itself perfectly for slowing an overly busy life, and it did that with significant effect in this soft and sad piece.Up next was a lively and jolly dance piece for all performers, “Un Sarao de la Chacona”, from Catalan composer Juan Arañés. It skipped to a steady but quick tempo. The constant melody goes around from singer to instrumentalist as it comes in and out; creating a rousing drinking styled song that livened up the music room.
Handel’s two-movement “Sonata in C Major”, for viola d’amore and harpsichord is a delicate piece where both voices support each other. The characteristics of these instruments matched perfectly, as does this husband and wife team who know each other’s playing so well they can perform together without having to look for one another at rests and endings.
J.S. Bach’s “So du willst, Herr, Sünde zurechnen”, from his Cantata BWV 131, begins with a walking bass on the viola da gamba. This piece is full of Bach’s perfect counterpoint melodies, which travel across singer to singer and through each instrumentalist in total harmony. Each performer made this a standout piece.
French composer Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer’s piece “La Marche des Scythes”, for solo harpsichord came across as a toccata (to touch) with its fast passagework and intriguing rhythms. And, as always, played with precision and grace by the unflappable Monika Kornel.
J.P. Rameau and two-pieces by Bach finished off the afternoon with style and subtlety in a concert that showed the variety and spice of a tasty Baroque Cuisine.