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Chamber Music, Early Music Review Print

At the Music House: Christmas in July?

Italian Baroque Bijoux at the Music House

Event  Information

Greenville -- ( Sun., Jul. 22, 2018 )

The Music House: Gala Finale featuring Vivaldi’s Gloria
Performed by Jon Shaw and Carolyn Myers, sopranos; Jacques Snyman-Wieciech, countertenor; Leah Peroutka and John O’Brien, violins; Joey O'Donnell, viola; Christopher Nunnally, cello; Beverly Biggs, keyboard
$20 - $15 -- Music House , (252) 367-1892, themusichouse@suddenlink.net  , https://www.facebook.com/The-Music-House-167355323288497/ -- 3:00 PM

July 22, 2018 - Greenville, NC:

This grand finale Music House concert again featured Jon Shaw and Carolyn Myers, sopranos; Jaques Snyman-Wieciech, countertenor; Leah Peroutka, violin; Joey O'Donnell, viola; Christopher Nunnally, cello; and Beverly Biggs and John O'Brien, keyboards.

Vivaldi's Sonata al Santo Sepolcro, RV.130, is a typical sonata da chiesa; from it we heard the Largo molto and Allegro ma poco, played by all the instrumentalists. The sound was generous for the space, the playing strong and good. The music was reminiscent of the peeping of chickens and frogs and was ver' Italian.

"Vedro con mio diletto," sung perfectly by Wieciech, accompanied by O'Brien, is from Vivaldi's opera Giustino, RV.717. It is a lovely da capo aria; more variation in the ritornello would not have been amiss. In the original, the accompaniment would have been orchestral. The harpsichord buff stop was unknown on Italian harpsichords of the era. O'Brien's use of the buff stop on his Franco-Flemish double is an appropriate rearrangement for the time and the music, especially for the many arpeggiated passages in this piece.

The entire ensemble joined Wieciech for Vivaldi's "Sol date mio amore," which was complex and fiery.

Handel was German, studied in Italy, and made his home in London. His "Italian duet" "Amor, gioie mi porge," HWV.180, was written in Italy in 1707. It is an interesting contrast to the same sort of music as written by Vivaldi.

The very classical String Trio in G Major of Felice Giardinin (1716-96), performed with much flourish by Peroutka, O'Donnell, and Nunnally, was a marked contrast to the preceding high Baroque of Handel and Vivaldi.

There is nothing especially evocative of Christmas in the Vivaldi Gloria, but it has become a favorite of both choirs and audiences for Christmas-time performances. The version of RV 189 heard on this occasion, a reconstruction by C. M. Laberge, pares the piece down to a reasonable size chamber ensemble. It is a likely expression of the reality of composing for the musicians of a girls' orphanage, the Ospedale della Pietà, where Vivaldi spent thirty years of his compositional life. In Laberge's form, the choruses are reduced to two sopranos and an alto and the arias are simplified even more. This arrangement gave Snyman ample opportunity to sing. He blended beautifully with the two sopranos; his voice has a broadness that compensates somewhat for his not-so-powerful sound. It was excellent to see him taking on a large role like this.

Myers and Snyman sang together in VI. Domine Deus with beautiful vocal phrasing. Their voices compliment each other well. The vigorous tempo in VIII. Agnus Dei was effective. In IX. Qui tollis, the contrast between the tutti and the ripieno was well handled; the return of the original theme in XI. Quoniam pulls the whole piece together neatly.

This year's Summer Early Music Festival presented a varied group of music and showcased a lot of excellent North Carolina talent. Although BEDLAM was the show stealer, the trio of Shaw, Myers, and Wieciech contended strongly for first place. Credit is also due O'Brien and Peroutka for playing in three of the five concerts; that was a lot of preparation.

(Edited, corrected 7/31/18.)