A very exciting and quite intriguing concert formed the latest of the Prelude in Tea series, The Marais Project and Elysian Fields in TIMES AND SEASONS .
The first half celebrated the twenty years since The Marais Project was founded and also heralded the release of a new CD on Marin Marais’ 363rd birthday on May 31. (1656-1728) From humble beginnings in 2000, The Marais Project has become a national leader in the creative presentation of music for the viola da gamba. Led by Jennifer Eriksson, while specialising in the French baroque period, the ensemble’s repertoire has expanded to include new Australian works and sophisticated arrangements of folk music as documented in 6 CDs, several of which were launched at The Independent Theatre .For this performance the Marais Project consisted of Belinda Montgomery ( soprano), Leif Henrikson ,( viol) Tommie Anderson ( lute/theorbo), Jennifer Eriksson ( viol), Catherine Upex( cello) and Susie Bishop ( soprano, violin) . Continue reading PRELUDE IN TEA : MARAIS PROJECT : TIME AND SEASONS→
On May 31, 2019, the great viola da gambist and composer, Marin Marais turns 363. From the point of view of Sydney, Australia, where I live and work, what are we to make of him and his legacy?
This year, May 31 takes on special importance for The Marais Project as on this day we release our 20th Anniversary CD, The Garden Party. This recording is, in part, a celebration of the great man and the role he has played in our lives. The disc includes an Australian-first recording of a Marais suite arranged for viol and piano accordion as well as an original composition of mine, The Garden Party, inspired by Feste Champêtre from Marin Marais’ Suitted’un Goût Étranger.
From the comfort of hindsight, however, we are easily given to idealized notions of life prior to the 21st century whirl of cars, planes, computers and mobile phones. The hard reality of life in past epochs cannot be avoided. In 1800, 50 years after Marais death, the average life expectancy of a French citizen was a miserly 30 years. A typical Western European of the time weighed in at a petite 110 to 130 pounds and stood only 5 feet 5 inches tall. Continue reading ON TURNING 363 : REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MARIN MARAIS→
This was a glorious concert in which the ABO under the enthusiastic, energetic and precise direction of Paul Dyer glowed and were in tremendous form.
The concert was terrifically staged with most effective lighting , opening with guest star Lixsania Fernandez appearing solo in the spotlight then as the music required quietly joined by the various members of the ABO who had been waiting behind red lit screens. Tall , charismatic and model thin, striking, rather feline Fernandez hails from Cuba with reddish/purple hair . She wore several different elegant outfits during the concert. There was obviously profound rapport between Fernandez and the ABO and great enjoyment .
First we heard Folia Pasticcio by Corelli, Scarlatti and Marais which sounded as fresh as if it had been written yesterday. The music eddied and swirled .Fernandez on her viola da Gamba had a luminous , passionate solo and at one point Dyer on harpsichord had a rippling, delicate solo.
The ‘labyrinth’ of the title was the fiendishly difficult Pietro Locatelli’s 12th Violin Concerto in 3 movements from his Opus 3 set: Il Laberinto Armonico or The Harmonic Labyrinth. The composer described it on the score as “easy to get into, difficult to get out of” and Brandenburg’s Concertmaster Shaun Lee-Chen dazzled, channelling his inner Paganini and giving an astonishing bravura performance in the almost impossibly demanding Capriccios.
Most early music fans are aware that the viola da gamba is also known as the bass viol. It is less well known, perhaps, that there is also such an instrument as the bass violin, also known as the ‘basse de violon’. The bass viol and bass violin were mainstays in French baroque music and featured in the Court orchestra of King Louis XIV. For this concert The Marais Project welcomes Tim Blomfield, one of Australia’s finest bass violinists and co-founder of Sydney’s long standing and highly respected early music ensemble, Salut! Baroque. The Sunday afternoon program will feature a cantata by Montéclair, music by Marais – with the bass violin providing the continuo – and other works that show off the complementary and contrasting aspects of the two instruments. Continue reading THE MARAIS PROJECT PRESENTS ‘A BASS AFFAIR’→
THE VIOLE DIVINE at St Luke’s Church Mosman was a concert which took a satisfying glimpse at music featuring the seven-stringed viola da gamba. All five items on the programme revealed the nature of eighteenth century chamber music.
Compositional complexities, ensemble textures and period ornamentation were delivered by Thoroughbass’ trio of violin, harpsichord and the featured viola da gamba.
This concept exposed the audience to a varied display of the expressivity, characteristic mellowness and agility of the viola da gamba as written for by major French and German composers. Shaun Ng’s playing was sensitive and well-nuanced. He showed a desired restraint but was always ready to switch to fiery virtuosic playing when required. Continue reading Thoroughbass -The Viole Divine @ St Luke’s Church Mosman→
For the past fifteen years the Marais Project has augmented their continuing exploration of the 600 works composed by Marin Marais with concerts and recordings of considerable diversity and innovation.
The Project’s fifth CD, SMÖRGÅSBORD! is no exception. Recently released on the Move Records label, it shares aspects of the Swedish musical tradition from pastoral hymn tune through folksong and Baroque instrumental music to 21st century composition.
A stellar cast of a male vocalist and period instrumentalists bring to life a work from Marin Marais’ oeuvre as well as the variety of Swedish music. Fine arrangements by Tommie Andersson in the Baroque guise make up an impressive thirteen of the twenty-four tracks. Continue reading The Marais Project CD -Smörgåsbord!→
2014 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the commencement of THE MARIAS PROJECT. This institution, in which viola da gambist Jennifer Eriksson with her contemporaries in early music performance set out to perform the entire oeuvre of Marin Marais has already performed eighty-five per cent of Marais’ total output.
The striking setting of Sydney University’s Refactory suitably housed this special tribute to composer John Dowland. The aesthetic suited the styles of the music, and the acoustic was a true gift for this birthday bash.
Special guests attended this party. Virtuosi Tommie Anderson (lute) and Daniel Yeadon (treble viol) augmented the solid ensemble. Soprano Belinda Montgomery beautifully brought Dowland’s emotional and joyous intensities to life, and freshly to our time, above a range of accompaniment textures.