Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Repast Baroque Ensemble, "Queen Christina's Musical Realm"

On Friday evening we went to a performance by the Repast Baroque Ensemble. In the photo above they are, left to right: Katie Rietman, baroque cello; Gabe Shuford, harpsichord; Amelia Roosevelt, baroque violin; and Stephanie Corwin, baroque bassoon. They were joined for this event by violinist Beth Wenstrom. Their concert consisted of works by composers who were contemporaries of Christina of Sweden (1626-1689; reigned as queen 1644-1654); some of whom knew or performed for her. Most are Italian, for she settled in Rome following her abdication of the Swedish throne, but two are from the Low Countries, her initial destination after leaving Sweden. One is by a Spanish monk, Bartolomeo de Selma y Salaverde, whose music was popular in Italy when Christina was there, and one is by the English composer Matthew Locke. Christina never visited England, but while she reigned in Sweden she was visited by a delegation from Oliver Cromwell who are said to have thought very well of her, and gave her examples of contemporary English music. That Cromwell's representatives admired Christina proved ironic when, after her abdication, she converted to Roman Catholicism.
Unfortunately, there is no video or audio available on line of Repast doing any of the works that were included in Friday's concert. The clip above, which gives audio along with a still image, is of them (with Claire Jolivet instead of Ms. Wenstrom as guest violinist) performing Sonata No. 6 by Carolus Hacquart, one of the two Low Country composers included in their Friday concert, although the work they played there was Hacquart's Sonata No. 3. It does give you a good sample of their sound.

Another piece I especially enjoyed was "Susana", by the Spaniard Bartolomeo de Selma y Salaverde, which featured the bassoon; de Selma was a bassoonist. There's no video of Repast doing anything by this composer, but I found the clip above of his Canzona Terza performed by a group led by Pedro Sousa Silva, who plays recorder. The bassoon plays an important role in this piece; unfortunately, the bassoonist is not identified.

After the concert, I met both Stephanie Corwin and Amelia Roosevelt, and said to both, "You rock!" In each instance, this evoked a slight wince, but I think Repast plays with something of the spirit of a rock band. They play off each other with great alacrity, and their music swings, as I believe baroque music was intended to do. I'm looking forward to the rest of their 2016-17 season performances; the schedule is here.