Fabulous fringe concert: Ensemble Weimar
The best way to start an Early Music Festival day in Utrecht was – according to me – to head for the café-restaurant “Winkel van Sinkel”. This venue is not only a café and restaurant, but has also been used to host fringe concerts over the years. In fact, I had attended a concert there already. (See part 3.)
What makes this a decent place to start the day is that it is already receiving customers from at least 10:00 onwards, it is situated right next to a canal, it has free WiFi, and the morning sun shines on its small street side terrace. All this together make it a place for a relaxed start of the day – even if you are not in Utrecht for festivals or concerts. On Wednesday evenings you can apparently get your future told by getting your hand read or by a Tarot reading. On other days, there are usually cultural events scheduled. This is not exactly a dull spot.
Though Tivoli-Vredenburg also has a café restaurant, free WiFi, and the coffee is just as expensive, I much prefer the “Winkel van Sinkel”’s terrace with view past the Karyatides, across the street and canal to the old town-hall and even the Dom tower.
Today’s extra was, that the sunny terrace was also halfway to the venue of my first fringe of the day. The Ensemble Weimar was going to play in the Pieterkerk. This church is one of my favourite spots as it has a very quaint garden (not always open to the public).
The church itself is also very beautiful as it is an old, historic building with many original features. There are Roman bits. There are remnants of frescoes. There are Gothic and Renaissance elements. The acoustics are good and the church is regularily used for concerts. The hard wooden benches are less inviting, but the concert by the Ensemble Weimar was so brilliant and impressive, most of the public took this for granted.
I had heard this ensemble last year and had been greatly impressed; especially by the breath-taking performance on the traverse by Gregorio Carraro. This concert seemed even better and brought tears to my eyes. It was that beautiful. The rest of the public shared my opinion, for they treated the ensemble to a very long, standing ovation to ensure the group came back on stage and there were even – quite un-early-musical: catcalls and wistles! Unfortunately, all these signs of great approval did not entice the ensemble to an encore. After their concert there was, however, plenty time to talk with its members, ask questions, have a look at their CD.
Like previous ensembles I heard, this one also contrasted music from Italy and northern baroque music. However, for an amateur like me, the choice of music seemed to bring out the differences and similarities better during this concert.
The ensemble started with sonata nr 4 by Dario Castello. The sonata sounded playful, teasing, quick-witted. Then there followed three sonatas by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, whose music can be heard regularly as he is one of the Habsburg composers the festival focusses on. The sonata 4, sonata 8 and sonata 9 all sounded more solid yet still lovely compared to Dario Castello’s sonata. Sonata 8 definitely started melancholically but the mood soon brightened up. The last sonata of this concert, sonata nr 9 by Dario Castello, brought the concert to its cascading finish.
Again: a truly fabulous Fabulous Fringe Concert!
Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014: Ensemble Weimar, 3rd of September 2014, 11:00, Pieterskerk
Gregorio Carraro traverso;
Elisabeth Lochmann violin;
Gertrud Ohse viola da gamba;
Daniele Rocchi harpsichord.
Ensemble Weimar can be found on Facebook and has a webpage.
A Youtube excerpt of ensemble Weimar