Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ensemble Allegria - "Promenade dans un jardin baroque" - 07/05/15

Florence Bruggey: Soprano
Laurence Girard: Violin
Solveig Gernert: Cello
Bach: Siciliano
Caccini: Amarilli
Giordani: Caro mio ben
Scarlatti: O cessate de piagarmi
Pergolesi: Se tu m'ami
Bach: Sinfonia da cantata No. 156 (Arioso)
Handel: 3 airs from Neun deutsche Arien
No. 6: Meine Seele hört im Sehen, HWV 207
No. 4: Süsse Stille, sanfte Quelle,
HWV 205 No. 5: Singe, Seele, Gott zum Preise HWV 206
Bréval: Duet for violin and cello (Allegro)
Pergolesi: Excerpts from "Stabat Mater"
No. 4: Quae moerebat et dolebat
No. 6: Vidit sum dulcem natum
No. 2: Cujus animan gementem
Bréval: Duet for violin and cello (Adagio)
Purcell: "When I am laid in earth" from Dido and Aeneas
Purcell: "Fairest Isle" from King Arthur
Handel: "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Rinaldo
Carissimi: "Vittoria, Vittoria, mio core!"

After an extremely busy Saturday night filled with traditional and modernized Mozart in Dieulefit's Parc de la Baume, my mom and I got another live music fix on Sunday evening in the Saint-Pierre Church of the nearby village of Comps. Standing proudly on top of its hill, the tiny Roman church hosts extremely popular free concerts performed by small ensembles all year long. And if I had had any doubts about that claim, they would have been quickly dispersed at the sight of an eager crowd of countless regulars and a few newcomers packing the small space to the rafters for the promised "Stroll in a Baroque garden".
The program was a well-balanced Baroque affair, in which four set of arias (Italian, German, Latin and opera excerpts) would be interspersed by instrumental works. Not a bad way to ease into a hot summery Sunday evening.

Blazingly kicking off the performance with a siciliano by Bach, local duo Laurence Girard at the violin and Solveig Gernert at the cello brilliantly demonstrated their virtuosic skills, which were also put to good use for the Arioso of Bach's Sinfonia da cantata No. 156, as well as for two movements of a violin and cello duet by lesser-known but worth-knowing Jean-Baptiste Bréval, which immediately seduced the audience with their pretty melodic lines.
In between those instrumental interludes the musicians were joined by special guest soprano Florence Bruggey, first with four Italian arias by master composers of the genre, which were the perfect opportunity for her to display her strong, wide-ranging voice for a clearly articulated, vividly colored performance.
She did not rest on her laurels long. Next she effortlessly switched to the harsher German language for three pieces from Handel's intimate collection of nine arias, for which he exceptionally returned to his native tongue. Meditatively expressing the goodness of God in all his creation, the texts were serene and intricate, the singing delicately lyrical and subtly organic for maximum impact.
Pergolesi's Stabat Mater became even more popular after his death, which in fact happened shortly after the completion of the composition, and Florence Bruggey expertly handled the sacred Latin text. Although the first excerpt sounded unusually perky for such a disheartening subject matter, the singer powerfully carried across Mary's profound suffering during the crucifixion.
The last set of arias started with the agonizingly sad "When I am laid in earth" from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, followed by the immaculately beautiful "Fairest Isle" from Purcell's King Arthur and the intensely plaintive "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Handel's Rinaldo. Carissimi's "Vittoria, Vittoria, mio core!" ended the official program on a resoundingly victorious note.

The ovation being long and loud, the three ladies treated us to a repeat performance of Pergolesi's exquisite "Se tu m'ami", an ever-delicious bonbon for the short drive back to Dieulefit.

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