Review by Judith Caldwell
Hammer Baroque’s February concert was ‘Amore’. It consisted of madrigals from Renaissance England and Italy sung by Capella Intima with lutenist Magdalena Tomsinska. Capella Intima is a quartet of singers, soprano Sheila Dietrich, tenor Bud Roach, alto Jennifer Enns Modolo and baritone David Roth who perform frequently at Hammer Baroque. Most of the works presented were Sixteenth Century pieces with John Dowland, Philippe Verdelot, John Wilbye & Jacques Arcadelt the most prominent composers.
The afternoon began with a lovely polyphonic invitation from Dowland for love to ‘come again’.
The format of the program had a poem or quote about love followed by a musical song or a lute solo, the love poems were by people as diverse as Lord Byron, Shakespeare and Dorothy Parker and the quotes were quite hilarious and from sources such as Ogden Nash, Zsa Gabor and Oscar Wilde, many of whom had rather a dim view of love. This made for an entertaining juxtaposition of lovely serious music such as Arcadelt’s The White Swan, who sings when dying, followed by a quote from Zsa that ‘men are like fires, if unattended they go out’ or ‘girls must marry for love – and keep doing so until they find it.’ Then a rousing, slightly ribald song followed by a poem.
There were two lute solos in the first half -‘Ricercar’ by Marco dall’Aquila and Calata ala spagnola by that rarity, a female composer, Joan Ambrosio Dalza, which was intricate and quite lovely. The first half of the program ended on an upbeat note with a lively, noisy and fun song about a very virile rooster who was for sale.
After intermission, there were three happy songs of requited love interspersed with modern poems by Dorothy Parker and Ogden Nash which were less rosy. The lute solo this time was an intricate Allemande that conjured visions of Elizabethan dancers, this was followed by a wonderfully melodramatic John Wilbye song -‘she frowns (despair) and I die!’ After that Arcadelt announced that ‘cupid is more blind than lovers, for carelessly giving woman a heart.’
The afternoon ended with two more Dowlands, one a lute solo which was very difficult and beautiful, and finally ‘Now, oh now I needs must part’, a long gorgeous piece of music sung by the quartet with lute which was accompanied by photos of famous lovers, some of whom enjoyed enduring love and some who flamed out spectacularly – Queen Elizabeth/Duke of Edinburgh; Liz Taylor/ Richard Burton; Edith & Archie Bunker; Lucy/Desi etc. The appreciative audience obviously enjoyed this varied programme of beautiful music and amusing sayings about ‘Amore’. The next concert is Toronto’s Rezonance Ensemble on March 18th, at 4pm.