Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014: part 11

Fringe concert: Rinnovatori

While keeping an eye on the festival tills and shop for friends, I was sitting in the café-restaurant part of Tivoli-Vredenburg. The exhibition room, a few flights of stairs higher, was closed as it was in use by musicians as a practise room.

During the Early Music Festival, this room contains a virtual exhibition of the Viennese Kunstkammer full of the treasures of the Habsburgers. Throughout Tivoli-Vredenburgh, enlarged pictures or videos of various items from this Kunstkammer are also on continual display. Emperor crowns, ivory statues, and for instance the salt dish …. and other treasures can be seen in great detail.

At Plein 5, the stairs which form the seats, were slowly filling with people who like me had either been at the fabulous fringe concert by the Ensemble des Rencontres Baroques de Montfrin (see part 10), or at other concerts, workshops, lectures – or had just arrived. People were milling around the festival shop, others were trying to make up their minds about whether to have a Pretsel, a part of Sachertorte, a piece of Apfelstrüdle, or another slice of Viennese cake. .

The Rinnovatori musicians, who were going to have to compete with the noise of chatting people, rattling cups and saucers or cutlery or steam of coffee machines and other noises from the “Wiener Kondittorei”, had started to rehearse on their Plein 5 “stage”. Among them, I noticed another familiar face. About 24 hours earlier, he had sold me a CD at the festival shop. Rens Claerhoudt apparently was a man of many talents. If not involved in sales, he played second fiddle in Rinnovatori.

It could be worse. It is impossible to see on the photo, but one of the other members of the ensemble, Gerald Lim played a very naughty harpsichord. On the inside of the harpsichord was a famous Titian painting. The flap with the face of the lady had been folded totally out of sight. The rest of her totally naked body – with that hand at a questionable place – was draped across the inner side of the harpsichord’s opened cover, for the complete audience to gawp at during the rehearsal as well as the complete concert and after.

It made me wonder who had ordered this harpsichord, who owned it. The harpsichords used during the festival are not owned by the musicians. There are one or two ordinary, dull ones with unadorned wood. There are one or two which are beautifully decorated. At least one has a kind of “milky way” decorations outside and inside. Usually, harpsichords sport scenes like a gallant with a lady or innocent landscape. With the lid closed, this harpsichord would be innocent enough standing in the corner of a room. But once the lid was open …

While I was musing, the four members of Rinnovatori were going through parts of their program’s pieces till they were satisfied. Then they left to wait out the few minutes before their performance would start. In the meantime, I spotted familiar faces of earlier fringe concerts from previous years as well as this year’s concerts. The stairs, chairs, and other places where people could sit on, lean on, hang across or against were filled to max capacity. People were starting to sit down on the concrete floor.

Then it was 2 o’clock and the musicians came “on stage” again. Lucia Capellaro, the enthusiastic cellist, introduced the program. It’s theme was “Italians, of course” and we were in for some serious Italian 17th century music. For the Habsburg empire had once practically consisted of the whole of Europe, including parts of Italy.

The order in which the pieces were going to be played had been changed slightly. Then she introduced her fellow musicians, mentioning that the cd seller I knew was actually a “last minute addition”. Had I known, I would have asked for a signed CD.

I later asked ms Capellaro and she told me the ensemble’s fourth member had been unable to join them in time for this concert. As she knew Rens Claerhoudt would be at this festival in Utrecht, she’d contacted him as a replacement at the last moment. So this explained why the four of them had been rehearsing at Plein 5 till minutes before their concert started. Well – I was even more impressed.

The concert itself went without hiccup. The team of four played the Trio sonata op 3 nr 2 by Arcangelo Corelli, followed by trio sonata op 1 nr 1 by Vivaldi, trio sonata op 1 nr 11 by Francesco Geminiani, Sinfonia 22 by Alessandro Stradella and finished with the Ciaconna in C by Tarquinio Merula. The only piece Rens Claerhoudt did not take part in was the Sinfonia.

When the four members of Rinnovatori were applauded and lauded by a very impressed and grateful audience, I noticed a thumbs up above me – from one of the friends or family members of mr Claerhoudt who had come to give moral support.

Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014: Rinnovatori, 2nd of September 2014, 14:00, Tivoli-Vredenburg, Plein 5.


Lucia Capellaro             cello ;
Simone Pirri                 violin ;
Rens Claerhoudt           violin,
Gerald Lim                   on the naughty harpsichord

At the moment of publishing this post, I was unable to find Rinnovatori’s webpage


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