23 March 2016

New for Easter

Great to see the emergence of a new local ensemble, and with a great name: Adhoc Baroque. A light-hearted take on some deadly serious music for Easter. They performed at Canberra's strangely out-of-place heritage church, St John the Baptist (which predates Canberra's establishment by ~80 years), taking advantage of the stony presence and a nice loft organ for one piece. We heard Pergolesi Stabat Mater and Salve Regina and some excerpts from Vivaldi's take on Stabat Mater and Pescetti Sonata in C minor for organ. This ensemble presents with one voice per part, variously organ, two female voices (alto and soprano), viola da gamba, viola and two recorders or two violins. The voices were very satisfying alone but richly evocative and harmonically thrilling together. Two recorders are truly a sound of another era, rounded and evenly toned as they are. They viola and violins were played with modern bows (and presumably metal strings) so were strong and decisive. It's different from gut, but still perfectly satisfying to my ears. Interestingly, Rachel commented that her viola da gamba (with gut and period bow) had the sound of open strings for all notes because of the frets (they have strange moving frets that require tuning). I'd admired her firm and wonderfully steady playing and even string crossing and maybe this fretted sound helped it to match neatly with the modern instruments. The organ for the vocal pieces was sampled electronic and sounded perfectly well for the style. The major work was Pergolesi Stabat Mater which tells the story of Mary under the cross, variously deeply sad and bouncingly triumphant at the religious outcome. The Vivaldi was an interesting comparison, being on the same topic. The organ was a delightful interlude. Great concert. Welcome to a capable new group.

Adhoc Baroque was led by Peter Young (director, organ continuo) with Greta Claringbould (soprano), Maartje Sevenster (mezzo-soprano), Robyn Mellor and Olivia Gossip (recorders), Pip Thompson and Elysia Fisher (violins), Lucy Carrigy-Ryan (viola) and Rachel Walker (viola da gamba).

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