review by Judith Caldwell
Hammer Baroque presented a program of music by Boccherini and Mozart organized by cellist Elinor Frey. In her introduction Frey said Boccherini was one of her favourite composers because as a cellist himself he wrote interesting music for that instrument instead of the typical ‘accompaniment’ music for cello as composed by his contemporary Hayden. The concert had an international flavour with Belgian traverso player, Jan De Winne, who is also currently one of the most respected flute makers in the world. He performed on a flute he recently made tuned to A = 422 Hz, the pitch of the tuning fork of Mozart’s piano. *
The Italian Consulate sponsored violinist Rosella Croce from Italy to join Frey, De Winne, Laura Andriani, violin, and violist Isacc Chalk. The concert was sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts. Boccherini’s Flute Quintet in D Minor was the opener and its Rococo lightness and charm brightened a dull January afternoon, one could imagine dancers weaving ribbons of sound. The tone of the wooden Baroque flute was soft and warm, quite different to the modern silver flute, and blended extremely well with the strings. Next up was String Quartet in B-flat Major. In her introduction Frey said the young Boccherini and three other prominent string composers of the time would tour playing their own string quartets – the first such group to do so. This piece was in three movements, a busy optimistic Allegro, a plaintive Largo and a very lively Fuga. Con spirit. The first half wrapped up with Flute Quartet in D major by Mozart which showed the truly lovely tone of the flute especially in the high notes. The Allegro was typical marvellous Mozart, the Adagio was haunting and by the time we reached the familiar Rondo even the players were smiling despite the need for absolute precision when playing Mozart.
After intermission the first Boccherini was String Trio in G Major for two violins and cello. This piece in four movements was new to this scribe and it ticked all the boxes for a charming piece of chamber music with a very interesting cello part and a hint of Spanish influence. Frey had said it was one of her favourites which was not at all surprising. The concert wrapped with Boccherini’s Flute Quintet in G Minor in two movements, a big, bold, confident Allegro followed by a beautiful Minuetto which conjured up the dancers again. De Winne’s flute once again blended beautifully with the strings.
For future concerts go to HammerBaroque.com