Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014: part 19

Fabulous fringe concert: Duo Frey & la Rotta

CarlaAfter the delightful concert by Ensemble Afflato (see part 18), I walked back towards the Dom church. At Achter de Dom 6, a corner house, you will find Carla’s. A “Konditorei” where everything is made on the premises. If the weather is fine, there is nothing nicer than sitting on its terrace with a coffee or tea and a delicious cookie or slice of cake. Enter the café, and you are in what used to be the living and dining rooms of an ordinary house. It is all quite small but very cozy and full of bric-a-brac.

But I did not have time to sit down for a coffee and Jitterbug. I was on my way to the Grote Zaal at Tivoli-Vredenburg, for the fabulous fringe concert by the duo Frey & La Rotta. Thanks to their brilliant performance at last year’s Early Music Festival, they had won the Audience Fringe Award. This means among other things, that the musician or musicians are promoted from fringe artist(s) to fabulous fringe performers.

When I took my seat, I wondered if the theorbe’s sound would reach all the auditorium’s nooks and crannies. In the end, it turned out that both instruments, whether being played solo or together, could be heard very well. Also, the quite extensive explanations by Elinor Frey could be heard quite well. So I presume that the problems with the harpsichord concert of Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya (see part 6), may have had nothing to do with the harpsichord, but may have been a technical sound issue. Especially, as in Leeuwenburgh last year – another fairly big auditorium, there had not been the same issue with the harpsichord when ms Nepomnyashchaya had played there.

Regardless, the 16th and 17th century pieces performed by Elinor Frey and Esteban La Rotta certainly illustrated the range and possibilities of the cello. The concert started off fairly ordinarily with Trattenimento nr 11 by Angelo Maria Fiorè, followed by sonata in D by Francesco Alborea detto “Franciscello”. These were followed by an Arpeggiata by Bellerofonte Castaldi and a sonata by Fiorè again. But then, the pace increased tremendously with a brilliantly performed toccata nr 10 by Francesco Paolo Supriani, trattenimento nr 12 by Fiorè and finally, the piece I liked most: sonata nr 6 by jean-Baptiste Barrière.

However, I am pretty sure that last year, when I heard Elinor Frey play, the concert probably took more than 60 minutes. The timing was better this time around, but the balance between talking and playing could have been better. It is not that I dislike being told lots of information about composers, the history and development of instruments, influences upon music and composer and more. But like the majority of the audience, I come for the music.

The cloggies sitting right next to me, started to bleat through ms Frey’s introduction, wondering aloud if she was lecturing or going to play at all. What did not help was, that they belonged to a large part of the people who do not understand anything but their own language.

When I asked them to shut up, they kindly did. But actually, they did have a point: too much talk and not enough music.

Duo Frey and la Rotta
Elinor Frey, cello
Esteban la Rotta, theorbe

At the moment of publishing, I was unable to find a webpage for this duo. Elinor Frey is on Facebook.
Carla’s Kondittorei: Carla’s

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