Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014: part 15

Fringe Concert: Amourette

I admit it: I was late for this fringe concert as I was having coffee with Australian friends at a table of the café in  after the previous fringe concert (see part 14). As stated in earlier posts, this café is next to Plein 5 but slightly higher. Plein 5 is like a pit theatre. Me being late did enable me to experience a phenomenon.

When you’re seated at a table of the café-restaurant, you do hear the applause of Plein 5 but not any music. On the other hand, as mentioned in previous posts: when you are sitting on the steps which are the seats of Plein 5, you certainly hear the noise from the café of a level higher. This noise certainly blots out explanations and introductions by musicians at Plein 5.

In the case of Amourette’s performance, the noise blotted out the intimate sound of both viola da gamba’s, until I was able to sit about halfway on the stairs which are this pit theatre’s benches.

Fortunately enough, Anja Engelberg and Constance Allanic were totally aware of the total unsuitability of Plein 5 for a concert by viola da gamba’s. So the public was invited to sit as close as possible to the musicians.

It was quite interesting to learn a bit about both instruments. I had already noticed one had 7 and the other one 6 strings. It turned out that the 7 strings instrument was a French version. Surprisingly enough the other instrument had been built in … 2014. Regardless, once close enough, their sounds were lovely.

I also learned something I had not realised – to my shame, as I’m a teacher of English and should have realised it. The music both ladies played was by 17th century English composers. What I had never thought about: during the Civil War and Cromwell’s reign, composing and playing music was totally not “cool” nor safe! Of course, it is well-known the theatres were closed, but that music had to be played at home, on the sneak and in secret? This is usually totally left out of the secondary and university curriculum.

More interesting background information followed, like the origin of the name of this ensemble. It does not translate half as nicely into Dutch.

Regardless, the selected music composed by a.o. John Ward, John Jenkins, Christopher Simpson, Matthew Locke and William Young was lovely to hear. The interaction between Anja Engelberg and Constance Allanic was nice to see and their enthusiasm quite inspiring. This fringe concert was a joy to witness and hear.

Fortunately enough, this concert at the dreadful Plein 5 “theatre” was not the only one by Amourette. Amourette plays twice at this Early Music Festival.

Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014: Amoprette, 3rd of September 2014, 14:00, Tivoli-Vredenburg, Plein 5.

Anja Engelberg viola da gamba
Constance Allanic viola da gamba

An excerpt from Youtube of a concert by Amourette


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