Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Early Does Not Mean Simplistic

Last night I attended a concert by an early music group made up primarily of players of viols with some individual solo parts, violin and vocalists.

First, addressing pitch:  There are a limited number of pitches in this music.  Is that really true?  Not if the vocalism that clearly prompts them is taken into account, in which case one would be struck over and over again by the dynamic range possible when the direction of approach is taken into account.  The violinist understood this and played so that it came alive in pitch.  The accompanying viols were careful, did not pick up the ball much less return it.  Result: droning.

Second, concerning rhythm(s): The bowing technique of period instrument invites rapid response, more like flickering than changes of bow direction.  This puts some attacks on the early, some on the late side side of the beat.  Again, the violinist stood out while the others seemed to be hiding behind correctness.

I don't go to concerts to hear correctness.  I want the players' listening to raise my listening to a new level.