Thank you to everyone who attend our ‘New World’ concerts. It was such a pleasure to perform with Susannah Lawergren – soprano and present this fine repertoire. Big thank you to classikON for the lovely write-up. ‘Music of the Baroque period, which to my mind is as intriguing as it is melodic, percussive, and, well, beautiful, is deeply satisfying.’
Salut! Baroque – Music like this sets us free
Salut! Baroque | The New World
Sunday 14 Aug, 2022, Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney
Susannah Lawergren – Soprano
Sally Melhuish & Hans-Dieter Michatz – Recorder
Stan Kornel, Bridgitte Holden – Baroque Violin
John Ma – Baroque Viola
Tim Blomfield – Bass Violin
Simon Martyn-Ellis – Theorbo
George Wills – Guitar
Jack Peggie – Percussion
Monika Kornel – Harpsichord
Sunday’s ‘New World’ concert at the Verbrugghen Hall was a ‘veritable transport of delight’ – such a wonderful expression, popularized in sacred and secular music. Look it up on Google!
Transported I was, along with the deeply appreciative, masked, and comfortably seated audience of music lovers in a pleasingly full auditorium. Covid lockdowns be damned. Music like this sets us free.
I like all kind of song and harmony, and whilst I was more or less unfamiliar with the repertoire – and I suspect many others were in the same boat – the musicians of Salut! had my attention from the start. In fact, it had me quietly moving to the catchy rhythms of those players of percussion, string and wind instruments. Anyway, sitting to one side at the very back, I figured I could get away with enjoying my very own classical groove without being a distraction to others.
Music of the Baroque period, which to my mind is as intriguing as it is melodic, percussive, and, well, beautiful, is deeply satisfying.
Having recently spent two years in Vilnius with its 40 Baroque churches and their music programs, it got me thinking that I should have stayed longer. But back to the work of Salut! Even if you knew nothing of the many featured composers and their compositions in this program, it was immediately apparent that here was a fusion of the early Moorish melded with the influence of native music on the Spanish occupiers in South America and, to some degree, with French and Italian styles. Each piece was distinctive in its own way, many of them to use a somewhat clichéd expression, hauntingly beautiful.
Consider the harpsichord with that idiosyncratically twangy tone, the strings (viola, violin and cellos), recorders and Baroque guitars, all of them familiar to many who lived through this period. The Salut! players were so accomplished on their instruments that I discerned only one very slight stumble, although I may be wrong, and if so, no offence intended. From my back seat perch, I could relate to the percussionist sitting atop his box behind an array of bells and chimes, bending and weaving in time to the ensemble.
Yet, it was the singer, Susannah Lawergren, who transfixed the audience with her opening number, a lively interpretation of the likes of Araujo, and the ‘Anonymous’ piece that followed after the Falconieri. A reminder of courtly dance, yet rather doleful and melancholic. Almost a lament?
Of course, there was much more, including Sebastián Durón’s love lilt, introduced by Lawergren who segued into an increasingly forceful delivery. Methinks she held back when I was expecting gypsy fire and its flamenco nuance in that guttural, almost growling way of singing. This work was one of defiance; a turn of the head and flick of the wrist.
There was far more than a short ‘review’ of this nature could possibly cover.
Each of us took away from the experience something that resonated, whatever our mood on the day. One of the most enjoyable, I thought, was Santiago de Murcia’s Fandango for two Baroque guitars, with our two players facing off. It put me in mind of those duelling banjos some of us recall from a film of yesteryear, but without the nasty bits that followed.
To quote from notes in Salut’s promotional brochure, The Best of Baroque: 2022 Concert Series: “Despite the tragedy of Spanish colonization (of South America), composers were inspired by the sophisticated cultures of the Aztec and Inca Empires. The resulting music is a fascinating tapestry, blending both European and South American harmonies and rhythms to create a unique style. Some composers returned to Spain to share their innovative musical discoveries, further enriching their distinctive folk and dance music.”
So they did, and also to share with those far removed in time from that period.