Saturday, November 22, 2008

Glowing Reviews: A good week for music

Last week I unfortunately missed Grey Anne's CD release party despite my best efforts to find it, so I've been anxiously waiting for her debut cd facts n figurines. It came in the mail today and I listened to it all the way through a couple of times. It was f*$#ing great, like I was sure it would be; I reviewed it at Suite101. Between that and my last week of music, which consisted of Fidelio last Thursday, PSU Symphony last Friday, La Stella on Sunday, and the PBO last night, I feel sated and happy, music whore that I am.

PBO Assembles World Class Talent for 'Pergolesi, Naples and Julius Caesar'

I went to a fantastic display of baroque muscianship last night at the Portland Baroque Orchestra concert. Nicholas McGegan, Yulia Van Doren, and Matthew White are amazing musicians, and if you love early music, beg borrow or steal the money to go to one of the two remaining performances this weekend. I got Nick McGegan's autograph on one of his CDs, adding to my collection of autgraphed CDs by other renowned directors such as Monica Huggett, Richard Egarr, and Rinaldo Alessandrini. Bring on Chris Hogwood! I know, you can say it...I'm a total nerd. What fun it is...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Quick Note on La Stella

Sunday at 3 pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Portland, the La Stella early music ensemble gave their first of hopefully many performances to come. I did not take notes at the concert, so this is just a quick heads-up about a promising new group.

La Stella consists of five performers:

Mary Rowell--violin
Zoe Tokar, alto recorder and voice flute
Owen Daly, harpsichord (playing an instrument of his own crafting)
Hideki Yamaya, theorbo and baroque guitar
Max Fuller, viola da gamba and baroque cello

They are all experienced Baroque musicians, and the depth of their expertise showed. The program consisted of very difficult works that required sincere scholasticism and excellent technique. While not quite flawless, as a serious early music fan this concert was one of the most satisfying meals I have had in some time.

In addition to trio sonatas for various combinations by Bach and Telemann, they delved into the early and middle Baroque repertoire for works by composers who are not heard as often, such as Giovanni Pandolfi (1620-1669) and Carlo Farina (1600-1640). Fuller played Marin Marais' langorous homage to his mysterious master, the famous Tombeau pour M'sieur de Sainte-Colombe for viola da gamba, . Yamaya presented two toccatas and a corrente for solo chitarrone (theorbo) by Alessandro Piccinini (1566-1638), and in the final 'Paris Quartet' by Telemann all five musicians played, with Yamaya joining the continuo on baroque guitar.

I'm not sure that there are any other small chamber ensembles in Portland who regularly play this type of music at this level, so I strongly hope that La Stella continues in this vein and receives the support that musicians like this so richly deserve from the PDX early music community. They do not have a website yet, but La Stella does have a Facebook page for those interested in learning more about the group or the performers.

NOTE: This is cross-posted ad Northwest Reverb.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Review of PSU Symphony at NW Reverb; preview of things to come

I attended a performance of the PSU Symphony's presentation of a Beethoven Mass as well as some new works, including the U.S. premier of Fresco by Portland's own Bryan Johanson. The review is here at NW Reverb.

Later this week at Suite101 I'm going to review facts n figurines, the debut CD by one of my favorite local alternative darlings Grey Anne, as well as (here at MO) a CD of PDX underground hip-hop that I bought for five bucks from a rapper on the street after he threw down and hit me with his flow right there on the sidewalk downtown. Now that's salesmanship!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bach Fans, learn about the Rough and Rowdy side of the Maestro

I just published an article here at Suite 101 about some of the less-often discussed aspects of Bach's life, such as his swordfights, jail-time and confrontations with fellow musicians. Did you know the first draft of the Well-Tempered Clavier was sketched while Bach was imprisoned? Find out more...