Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014: part 18

Fringe concert: Ensemble Afflato

Kuub exists two and a half years now. It’s one of Utrecht’s culture hubs. I only learned this just before this fringe concert started. I knew it had hosted fringe concerts last year, but I had not visited that concert. With two to four fringe concerts taking place at 11:00, one at 12:30, another two to four at 14:00 and another two to four at 15:30 you are bound to miss out on some excitement.

When the doors of Kuub opened, volunteers rigorously checked tickets. No ticket meant no access and the only alternative was to join the other queue and wait and see if there were any chairs left after those with a ticket had claimed a chair.

So when a man tried to get in by jumping the queue, the volunteers unkindly started:  “What’s that? Where’s your ticket?”
Roughly forty pairs of eyes burnt into the man’s back as well.
Plenty willing hands to help him out.
“I’m the owner!” he squeaked.
Flustered, the volunteers let him in. It definitely is a step too far, to kick the owner out of his premises, because he doesn’t have a ticket to the fringe concert he’s hosting in his cultural hub. But hey – you can’t be careful enough these days. (See part 17)

Later, when all seats were taken and the concert was about to begin, he welcomed the audience. He also took the opportunity to tell us about the modern art exhibition of work by 50 Utrecht artists  – “but – oh yes, you are of course here for the concert “ – and the book that went with this exhibition,” – oh yes, you’re here for the concert – “ when his Kuub had started, what kind of cultural events took place in his Kuub,  what pieces were on show, that the audience was free to wander through the exhibition, yes that another statue of that person could be found in Tivoli-Vredenburg, that …  This went on for over 10 minutes. When he had finally finished his sales spiel, he did manage to introduce Ensemble Afflato – in less than five seconds flat.

Ada Tanir gave a perfect introduction of the ensemble’s members, a bit of background info, the theme of the concert, the music chosen, the composers, and some history. “Prussian gallantry” was the theme. The four composers had worked in various roles for Frederik the Great who was not only good at waging wars, but also a very good amateur musician. So this was 18th century court music written for his Prussian court which at the time was one of Europe’s cultura centres.

The ensemble started with the trio-sonata in C by Johann Joachim Quantz. Quite a warm and jubilant sonata of which. I especially liked the “affectuoso”. This was followed by the sonata in g Wq 135 by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Compared to the previous piece, this definitely sounded more “Prussian”; strict, disciplined, to the point. I could imagine Frederic the Great waving the baton.

The sonata nr 8 in G by Johann Philipp Kimberger on the other hand, had a tender adagio, followed by two crisp allegros. The Ensemble Afflato rounded off this elegant “Prussian” concert with the sonata da camera op. 3 by Johann Gottlieb Janitsch. Its larghetto as played by the ensemble sounded lovely, seductive – while the allegretto and allegro were deliciously carefree.

Despite the new harpsichord playing up – Ada Tanir had taken a sheet music holder from another harpsichord and she had to fine-tune after the Quantz triosonata and before Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s sonata – this concert was both beautiful and delightful.

When Frederic the Great visited the Netherlands, he wrote it was a dull country with a dull court, or something even worse. But then: he never had the opportunity to enjoy the Early Music Festival – bet he would have loved taking part in it. Had he heard the Ensemble Afflato’s performance of his court music, he would certainly have approved of this fringe concert.

Ensemble Afflato:
Anne-Katrin Sandmann recorder;
Miho Shirai traverso;
Stela Bekirova hobo;
Feliz Zimmermann cello;
Ada Tanir harpsichord

Ensemble Afflato on facebook: Ensemble Afflato 
Cultural centre Kuub Utrecht: Kuub


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