On Oct. 9, I was in my usual seat on the aisle to hear a Lane Series program entitled, "An Italian Sojourn", which featured the Trio Settecento, comprised of Rachel Barton Pine, baroque violin, John Mark Rozendaal, baroque cello, and David Schrader, harpsichord.
One of the strengths of the Lane Series is that it is a loving home for baroque music especially, and this concert made the case for the Lane Series penchant for presenting the best baroque music in the world and the best baroque musicians.
Pine is an incredible violinist technically, which she proved unequivocally when she played the Sonata in D. minor by Pietro Locatelli, especially the unnoted fifth "movement", which was a long and frequently musically irrelevant cadenza that ended up on a ground bass that finally came to a final cadence. Even her peers applauded her performance. Her playing in all of the selections chosen was so sensitive musically and so incredibly gifted in terms of technique, that it is no wonder that her peers folder in such high regard.
Rozendaal is a consummate artist both as regards technique and musical awareness. The same is true of Schrader, who makes the harpsichord into a major instrument by his playing and his filling in of the figured bass as creatively as possible. His new harpsichord was made by Robert Hicks, of Lincoln and based on an harpsichord by Carlo Grimaldi, circa 1703. While I am speaking about instruments, let me add that Rozendaal's cello is an original-backfitted to remove the peg. And Pine's violin is an original, virginal baroque violin (never tampered with when violins became fitted in the 18th-19th centuries to play the classical and later literature.)
The literature that they played during this concert was for the most part of the 17th century, with pivotal works such as the Corelli Sonata in D. Maj., Opus 5, No. 1, which was not only well thought of musically, but whose. music became the ideal format for future composers.
There were surprises hidden in the selections, but they were all pleasant ones, something to mull over either in one's head after the concert, or, thanks to the CDs that were on sale, music one take home and enjoy over and over again (the which I intend to do).
If you are an aficionado of baroque music (and if you missed this AAA+ concert) there's one Oct. 23 with Andreas Staier, fortepiano; he will be accompanied by the builder of his instrument Rod Regier. Rod will give the preconcert talk at 6:30. The following Friday will be instrumental music of the 16th and 17th centuries by Masques, a Montr al-based group (audience members are invited to wear costumes to this particular concert). On Dec. 4, Liber unUsualis will present Christmas music old and new. For details, call 656-4455.
I recently joined with several hundred other opera aficionados gathered at Cinema 9 on Shelburne Road to see the much-discussed new production of Tosca by Luc Bondy at the Metropolitan Opera.
The discussions did not revolve around the singers, all of whom were absolutely splendid, down to the lowest of the mercenaries.
Criticism seems to lie in the setting and the staging. I for one, who have seen in the Opera House Dorothy Kirsten and Renata Tebaldi, and in film part of Maria Callas's interpretation of the role-all of them in a traditional, literal setting -felt that everything that I saw on screen made sense -- dramatic sense, musical sense, and I did not miss those things that were missing (such as the placing of a crucifix and lit candles around the body of Scarpia, or the actual fall of the heroine from the place high on the Castel Sant' Angelo to her death).
I must say that I experienced a small frisson where my Anglo-Saxon ancestry expressed my questioning Scarpia's kissing the statue of the Madonna that is being carried in a religious procession while the Te Deum is sung. All I know, however, and allowing some latitude for the French way of doing things. I found this a gutsy, monolithic and brilliant conception of the opera. I hope that Mr. Bondy fights for the strength of his production. In an interview given during one of the act breaks. He confessed, every so sweetly, that he had never seen the production that held the stage at the Metropolitan for 25 years; now if you buy that, I have a piece of real estate that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn that you might be interested in purchasing.
I caught the last performance of the UVM Department of Theatre's production of George Bernard Shaw's "Arms and the Man". If you missed it, you missed a quite elegant and satisfactory reading of the play directed by Peter Jack Tkatch, and featuring in particular Matthew Trollinger, Joshua Clark, Edward C. Nagel, and any Stauffer.
Burlington resident Dan Wolfe observes and critiques the local arts scene for The Eagle. His column appears weekly.