Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014 part 30

Fringe Concert: Rosa van Walbeek

From one end of Utrecht, I had to hurry past canals and the Dom tower to a concert venue I had visited a few days ago, during the fringe concert of Corde Sonore (see part 5). The charming werfkelder theatre and culture hub the “Witte Lelie”. After the dreadful schoolroom full of junk, tables, pianos, hard wooden gym benches (see part 29), I was quite looking forward to this white lily.

I had decided this was also going to be my last fringe concert and visit to the Early Music Festival 2014. At first, I had planned to also attend concerts on Saturday and Sunday. However, I was simply too disappointed with the dreadful organisation of this year’s festival.

Never before had I minded spending extra money on train tickets to ensure I would be able to obtain fringe tickets – only to find out this year, the necessity for arriving on time and queuing for close to an hour was a total sham. (See f.i. part 23)

Moreover, decades ago, this festival had started with a focus on early music. What had struck me during this year’s festival was, that many of the fringe or fabulous fringe concerts did have a link with early music, but not necessarily with this year’s interesting theme – music at the Habsburg courts.

There also seemed to be far too many viola da gamba and cello concerts – whereas there were not that many medieval and early renaissance instruments. I had also counted about one fringe harp concert, not noticed any forte piano and had the distinct impression, the program was less daring and varied than preceding years.

Unfortunately enough, my last fringe concert was yet another viola da gamba concert. In the audience were also ms van Walbeek’s friends and family as well as her teacher. As had become common practice, part of the audience was allowed in without any tickets at all for this concert yet again.

Ms van Walbeek played a 7 string viola da gamba, which played up and took a long while to tune in between pieces. Moreover, though I don’t mind fringe musicians not dressing to a T, I do prefer something more decent than some see-through cloth thrown over a black bra.

Ms van Walbeek treated her audience not only to see-through cloth over black bra, but also to a concert which ranked better than that morning’s one by les Elizées (see part 27). She had selected pieces from composers of the late 16th, 17th and early 18th century. Her background information was often scanty but at least audible – in this small venue.

The Recercata nr 1 and recercata nr 3 of Diego Ortíz were fine. The sonata Opus 9 nr 5 by Johannes Schenck from l’ Echo du Danube was nice. The last three pieces: prelude nr 4, allemande nr 8 and couble nr 9, all by Marais were acceptably played.

But by far the best and most impressive pieces ms van Walbeek played, were Captain Hume’s Pavan in G and his Harke, Harke in G. Tobias Hume must not only have been quite a character, as ms van Walbeek told her audience. Though she had already warned her public she was going to try to play some pieces as if her viola da gamba was a lute, it was truly interesting to see a viola da gamba used like a guitar and percussion instrument in Hume’s pieces. This certainly spiced up this concert!

Rosa van Walbeek will undoubtedly frequent the fringe concerts of the Early Music Festival in Utrecht in future. However, I suspect it will take a few years for her to be elected to the fabulous fringe. In as far as the selected procedure is not a sham. (See part 26)

This was my very last fringe concert of the Early Music Festival 2014 at Utrecht. The theme of this festival in 2015 will be England. No doubt there will be fringe concerts with music by for instance Dowland and Purcell. But after this year’s dreadful experience – organisation-wise – I doubt I will bother to attend any life concerts.

Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014: Rosa van Walbeek, 5th of September 2014, 15:30, De Witte Lelie

Rosa van Walbeek viola da gamba

For Rosa van Walbeek’s website: Rosa van Walbeek

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