Review by Danny Gaisin
The REZONANCE (sic) ENSEMBLE are a five-piece chamber quintet whose interest and emphasis is the post-Renaissance period of the 17th century. Among the stars of the era were Telemann, Corelli, Scarlatti, Pergolasi and a certain J.S. Bach.. For their Hammer Baroque concert at Melrose United, they and soloist Vania Chan selected work by Frederick Handel whose compositional lifetime spanned the first half of the eighteenth century.
Soprano Chan opened the afternoon with Morgana’s aria ‘Tornami a vagheggiar’ from Handel’s “Alcina”. Morgana is the sister of the eponymous character and is a desert temptress out to capture Ruggiaro’s heart.
* Chan’s voice is is like her face, mannerisms, and posture – it smiles! She never slurs her lyrics and her diction and phrasing is impeccable. Ms. Chan also offered two arias from the composer’s “Julius Caesar” whose Cleopatra is a far more sensitive and endearing persona that Willy S. wrote.
Another of Handel’s operas (he wrote 40) ORLANDO, is about a magical kingdom of rides and mouse ears (NO!) Actually, this masterwork deals with the army of Charlemagne who ruled the H.R.E. From 800 A.D. The pivotal role of Angelica is that she is the queen. Chan introduced the aria with a brief background explaining the emotions she must bring to the piece given its plot rationale. The projected lyric translations were also helpful, although like most operas of the era – as highly repetitious as every Gordon Lightfoot composition.
The Rezonance musicians on their period instruments, performed the suite from ‘Berenice’, which is about the Queen of Egypt attempting a Macedonian entente against a common seafaring enemy. All three brief movements were perfectly executed especially the andante which was familiar due to its having been the theme of a past NPR music programme. We did notice the 2nd had a slightly uptempo’ed reading. F.Y.I. A ‘gigue’ is a lively dance theme with a 3-6/8 metre.
The quintet also undertook an especially interesting arrangement of Handel’s trio Sonata in E minor. This 9-minute six-phrased work epitomizes the Baroque style, especially the French interpretation with its ceremonial emphasis and drama.
HAMMER BAROQUE is a cultural jewel for Hamilton & its environs in that is is the vehicle which offers the best of the GTA’s ensembles for its cultured and appreciative audience. Along with the HAM’N PHILHARMONIC and the NAO’s summer programmes; we so-called longhairs are infinitely blessed!. The next concert is with the Elixir Ensemble at the ‘Rock-on-Locke Oct. 27th. 2pm.
Speaking of Locke St.; its annual street Festival is on at the same time so our walk from bike to church was edifying and interesting.