As the sun crosses the bridge between dark and light, music lovers too are invited to traverse the timeline from the renaissance era into the baroque and through to Beethoven and Mozart’s …
As the sun crosses the bridge between dark and light, music lovers too are invited to traverse the timeline from the renaissance era into the baroque and through to Beethoven and Mozart’s time.
This journey through music history is guided by the Salish Sea Early Music Festival beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend with more shows to come including Sunday, Feb. 19.
Artistic director Jeffrey Cohan notes the seven-program season will connect listeners with “fabulous musicians and a wonderful program of repertoire you won’t hear anywhere else, or find on the internet.”
The first steps of the 12th annual festival on Saturday will present music from 1529 to 1625, with Vicki Boeckman on renaissance recorders, Jeffrey Cohan on renaissance transverse flute, Lindsey Strand-Polyak on viola, and Anna Marsh on the dulcian (or Renaissance bassoon).
These copies of 16th century instruments represent a most unusual blend that may have been quite commonly heard then.
“They’re very much contrapuntal, the voices combining as equals in this texture,” Cohan said of the music of this era.
The concert will provide an in-depth exploration of the rarely-heard Italian four-part canzona which blossomed in print from 1582 through the early decades of the 1600s. The program begins even earlier in 1529, marking the beginning of commercial music printing in Europe, through 1636 at which point more “modern” stylistic forms such as the familiar sonata began to supplant the canzona, bridging Renaissance and Baroque musical styles.
Canzonas by Andrea and Giovanni Cima, Biumi, Canale, Buonamente, Maschera, Ardemanio, Frescobaldi, and Corradini are to be included alongside examples of instrumental renditions of the French and Flemish songs that inspired them.
Two-hundred years or so later, in Beethoven’s day, composers wrote trios for the unusual combination of flute, guitar, and viola. The second program Sunday, Feb. 19 will explore these through the Viennese Biedermeier Serenade, with music from 1815 to 1835 by a trio comprised of Oleg Timofeyev on guitar, Strand-Polyak back on viola, and Cohan on eight-keyed flute.
The departure in style will equal the distance in epoch.
“It’s all very lively and virtuosic. They always bring about some really interesting ideas and statements from each instrument,” Cohan said.
“This is true for pretty much all of the serenades, that you’ve got the instruments in an interesting conversation producing really lively statements, tossing them back and forth between one and the other,” he added.
The program will include the “Noturno pour Flûte, Viole et Guitarre, Opus 21” by Wenzeslaus Matiegka (1773-1830), which caught Franz Schubert’s attention in 1814, and he arranged it for his family’s use with the addition of a cello part and one additional movement. Also the “Sérénade pour Flûte, Alto et Guitarre, Opus 83” by Gaspard Kummer (1795-1870), and an anonymous “Barynya” (Russia, 19th century) for solo guitar will be performed, among other works.
In Mozart’s time, the European guitar was given another string and tuned to a G major tuning. Although rare today, this became the only guitar almost exclusively used throughout Russia until the European six-string guitar regained popularity in the early 20th century.
There are a few guitarists that still prefer the seven-string instrument and the Romani people of Russia use it exclusively. The European music to be heard on this program would have been played in Russia on this instrument, as Timofeyev will be doing.
Cohan will play an eight-keyed flute of cocuswood, also known as Jamaican ebony, a very hard wood, with silver keys and ornamental rings, made in London in 1820 by George Rudall and perfectly suited to this chamber music.
Admission is by suggested donation of $20 or $25, and those 18 and under are admitted free. For additional information, go to salishseafestival.org/porttownsend.