Saturday, October 03, 2009


The GEMS Project at Le Poisson Rouge
Friday, October 2 at 6:30 pm
Ensemble Viscera
Brooklyn Baroque
New York Baroque Dance Company

This was the last evening in a series of early music programs sponsored by the Gotham Early Music Scene. 3 groups each did a 30 minute set for an audience of largely older patrons, not unlike your average opera or symphony audience. I guess it's still hard to bring out the younger audience for classical music, even to such a hip venue.

The 5-member Ensemble Viscera, accompanying themselves on lutes & guitars, sang a set of Jácara, 17th century Spanish ballads about criminals & whores. Their delivery was pretty & surprisingly tame given the subject matter. Translations & pictures from the period were projected behind them. I liked the refrain "Anyone who sings is a singing rat" that occured in their 1st & last numbers. Nell Snaidas, singing of a woman confessing her sins of love, created an operatic scene in miniature.

Brooklyn Baroque, a trio of Baroque flute, harpsichord & cello, performed flute sonatas by Telemann, Bach & Joseph Bodin de Boismortier. Flutist Andrew Bolotowsky has a very clean, pleasant flute sound with no breathiness in it at all. Their playing is easy to listen to, though lacking in dynamic contrast.

In the last set, dancers Catherine Turocy and Carlos Fittante, in full 17th century court regalia, played out strange courtship rituals with plenty of flourishes of capes, fans & swords. They were accompanied by a violin, harpsichord & modern flute playing French period music. They wore expressionless face masks for their dance to Les Folies, & I found it a bit freaky. Perhaps it was post-modern Baroque.

I had an ideal viewing position, perched atop a bar stool at the edge of the table seating area. For some reason I also got more attentive service than when I was in preferred seating on Tuesday & as a consequence was able to imbibe an extra drink or two, along with a small plate of bratwurst, sauerkraut & bretzel. I can see how LPR could be dangerously addictive.


Civic Center said...

The bar is always the best seating. And what is it about early music folks, OT excepted, that makes them so....I'm not sure of the word.

Axel Feldheim said...

The bar stool also worked out well because I was higher than those seated at tables & consequently better able to view the dancers in the last act.

This audience was certainly very attentive & also a bit testy. I assumed their testiness was due to their impatience with the service. But based on some HIP performances I have heard, I would expect then to have a high threshold for boredom.

Civic Center said...

What's a "HIP performance"?

Axel Feldheim said...

HIP is "Historically Informed Performance", meaning period practice performances, such as American Bach Soloists or Philharmonia Baroque. Taking your formulation, perhaps we can also call them "EMF" for "Early Music Folks"!